Show Overview: Mogwai @ L'Olympia, Montreal, April 25th 2011

Mogwai - April 25th 2011 - Montreal Canada - 01 

Show overview by Mario Gautreau
Photos: Tiffany Naugler

Back in November, when Mogwai announced a spring North America tour, I jumped on the occasion of seizing a couple of tickets, figuring it would be a good a time as any to see them. A friend of mine then gave me their Special Moves CD/DVD for Christmas, which added to my excitement to see/hear the band live.

I road-tripped to Montreal with my girlfriend, in what ended up also including the first Godspeed You! Black Emperor show in Montreal in quite a few aeons, following a by-no-means-fruitless hiatus. (We had the chance of seeing Thee Silver Mount Zion last summer, but I digress).

Glasgow-based Mogwai label-mates Errors were scheduled to open the show, but circumstances resulted in them not performing and Mogwai drummer Martin Bulloch having to back out of the tour due to family matters. This resulted in Errors drummer James Hamilton filing in for Bulloch for the entirety of the tour, which had already been sidetracked as a result of visa complications that left to cancelling the first 5 dates of the tour. This meant Montreal was now the first stop of the tour.

We arrived at Theatre L'Olympia, a deliciously beautiful theatre built in 1925, to a sidewalk filled with show-goers and scalpers, and met with a hometown friend inside. We opted to find seats upstairs, as the option of standing on a concrete floor for three hours didn't appeal to any of us, and managed to squeeze into a few seats with beer in hand for the openers.

USA Out of Vietnam - L'Olympia, Montreal, Canada - April 25th 2011 - 03
USA Out of Vietnam, a Montreal psych-influenced slow-tempoed drone-doom-rock act, opened the show and set the tone for a very loud evening indeed. The pulsating tribalesque drums resonated side-by-side with rocked-out bass, while the aura of distorted keys accompanied the soaring vocals and pedal-infused guitar solos that cranked the volume somewhere between 15 and 20. The band was well received, and the 40-minute set saw the band -- whose name left me quizzical -- combined elements from quite a few genre. I enjoyed their melange, and probably would have enjoyed it more with the volume turned down a tad (call me an old man if you want). The group has a great chemistry on stage, and I've gone online since the show to listen to their tunes again. It's catchy, spacey, aggressive and balanced.

As Mogwai graced the stage, I was wondering if they would play songs from across their repertoire or keep to the most recent releases. It turned out to be the latter, with the majority of the set stemming from their most recent "Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will," "Mr. Beast" and "The Hawk is Howling." As expected, they opened with Hardcore's opener, White Noise, launching into a set that included a magnificent light show and widescreen cinematic adventure as the backdrop. Any reservations I had about Hamilton filling in on drums, on what I assumed was short notice, quickly evaporated in the atmosphere of the performance; he seemed to provide a more aggressive attack on the drums, making the live show more intense than what I sometimes feel is a tame sound on the band's albums.

Mogwai - April 25th 2011 - Montreal Canada - 12

After going through Mr. Beast's Friend of the Night, the band blazed through three more "Hardcore" songs -- How to be a Werewolf, Rano Pano and Death Rays -- before rocking out the iconic I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead and one of my favourites from the new album, San Pedro. We occasionally got blinded for the stage's intense white lights whish-washing through the venue at lightning speed, but I took that as a cue to close my eyes and instead let the noise saturate my ears.

Mogwai - April 25th 2011 - Montreal Canada - 08

The only songs the band performed that weren't from the three most recent releases were Ithica 27o9 and New Paths to Helicon, Pt 1, the latter I read is a crowd favourite and frequently appears on the band's setlist. It sees guitarist Stuart Braithwaite and bassist Dominic Aitchison swap instruments, and gave a nice reminiscing in the sound. Both of these songs appear on "Ten Rapid". The set finished with the respective closing tracks from "Hardcore" and "Mr. Beast," You're Lionel Richie and We're No Here.

Mogwai - April 25th 2011 - Montreal Canada - 03 Mogwai - April 25th 2011 - Montreal Canada - 02

The encore launched with the piano-driven opener to "Mr. Beast", Auto Rock, a familiar track to many ears, before a false-start to George Square Thatcher Death Party, where Hamilton's stumbled drum roll gave way to a sea of appreciative laughter from the crowd. This might have been the only song in the evening where his lack of familiarity leaked a bit, but all was forgotten and forgiven with the last song of the night, Glasgow Mega-Snake, an instant adrenaline driver and a fantastic way to set the crowd loose at the end of the evening.

While the performance, sound and visuals were fantastic, I couldn't help but wish they would have played some material from their other albums : "Rock Action", "Young Team", "Come On Die Young", EP+6, etc. I don't know if the drummer's replacement affected the song selection (of course the new album evidently did), but one showgoer's yell of Helicon just before the last track started most likely echoed the feelings of a few others wishing for songs like Burn Girl Prom Queen and Stanley Kubrick. Nevertheless, the band performed a great show, and it was a pleasure to see them.

You can also check out a recording of the entire Mogwai set on our Concert Series Page!

Mogwai - Noisography LIVE Concert Series Album Artwork 

White Noise
Rano Pano
Death Rays
San pedro
Grand Prix
Helicon 1
Lionel Ritchie
We're no here
Auto Rock

See all the photos from this show HERE.
See all our videos HERE.


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