MOGWAI @ MAC2 (for Dark Mofo) gets 8.5/10

Mogwai
MAC2 (for Dark Mofo) Hobart
Saturday, June 10, 2017

8.5/10

As far as winter arts festivals go, there is no comparison to the celebration of darkness and light that is Dark Mofo. Breaking through the icy quiet of the winter solstice, Dark Mofo brings thousands of curious pilgrims to the sleepy capital of Hobart for an incredible two weeks of nocturnal feasting, music and art experiences.

With a focus on unconventional and experimental music, it seemed perfect that one of the headliners for the first weekend of the festival was post rock legends, Mogwai. Venturing inside the impressive MAC2 terminal space on Macquarie Wharf, people gathered within an eerie landscape of red beams of light that cut through the blackness, suspended in anticipation, earplugs in hand.

Photo by Q

This year, Mogwai have been busy touring North America with their 2016 release Atomic, the soundtrack to experimental documentary by Mark Cousins Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise. Following on from the exciting last minute announcement at Primervera Sound a week earlier, where they premiered their ninth studio album Every Country’s Sun played in full, Mogwai returned to Australia for an exclusive performance for Dark Mofo. The lucky audience came to be the first in the country to hear a good selection of the new material, including recent single and opener Coolverine, setting the scene for a promising return to the slower, brooding shoegaze melodies of early era Mogwai.

Photo by Dark Mofo/Lusy Productions, 2017

But it was the classic Mogwai tracks that really stole the show. Their extensive back catalogue was well represented and long-time fans would not have been disappointed. Highlights included regular set list favourites I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead, Rano Pano, Hunted By A Freak and Auto Rock, along with deeper cuts like the futuristic Deesh, military drums of Scotland’s Shame and the piano led, aptly-named Friend of the Night being real standouts. Of course, the biggest applause was saved for crowd favourite We’re No Here and the climatic Mogwai Fear Satan, an eleven minute build up to an earth-shattering wall of noise that had people screaming out for more.

Photo by Q

With no support act, Mogwai owned the stage for a solid 90 minute set, surrounded by an impressive light show as a post-apocalyptic backdrop. Newest touring member Alex Mackay, in lieu of Luke Sutherland and the recently retired John Cummings, added an extra intensity to the usually statuesque performances, rocking out on guitar front of stage, and occasionally joining or swapping with Barry Burns on keys. As usual, vocals were minimal and restricted mostly to Stuart Braithwaite thanking the audience from time-to-time, as well as new song Party In the Dark. But that’s not a problem for Mogwai fans, who come to be fully immersed in the epic soundscapes that the band creates.

Photo by Dark Mofo/Lusy Productions, 2017

Unfortunately, despite the impressive sound rig, it wasn’t always loud enough in the cavernous space. The lack of the bone rattling bass of the band’s previous Australian performances was particularly noticeable, with some audience members calling out for the volume to be turned up.

Mogwai will be touring in the later part of this year following the release of Every Country’s Sun in September, but sadly there are no dates set for Australia, yet. We will have to be content with the new album, the special one-off Australian show and maybe some wishful thinking.

Q

Photos by Dark Mofo/Lusy Productions, 2017 & Q
Image Courtesy Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

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