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Live Review: Mogwai @ The Tivoli 04.03.15

The Tivoli is easily my favourite venue in Brisbane; the grandiose décor prepares you for some kind of momentous occasion, no matter what happens on stage. When the band just so happens to possess an incomparable monolith of sounds and go by the name of Mogwai, shit gets real. Quick.

To get things started, Mick Turner of Dirty Three fame wordlessly ambles onto the stage and starts noodling away on his guitar while a drummer stoops awkwardly over his kit and slowly builds tension with an undercurrent of soft but rapid strokes that imply a groove instead of playing one.

They play a 'dance number' that sees Mick start off a groovy loop and start rocking out over it, all the while backed up by the drummer's frantic assault. Following this, everything goes quiet while he fumbles about, trying to find an interesting passage. It takes him a while, but he gets there and sets up a loop that is soon accompanied by the first 'normal' beat of the night. It isn't long until the violin bow comes out to punctuate Micks angular brand of jangly guitar melody. Even if there isn't much to hold onto and the playing seems aimless at times, there is a definite mood being set and I find myself lost in certain passages and give in to the realisation that life is too complex to understand why every note exists, man (bro?).

I push my earplugs firmly in my ears in anticipation as the house lights fade out. Three of the weird, overlapping hexagons from the most recent album cover hang overhead in the form of lighting panels and cast an eerie glow over a stage already filled with smoke.

Mogwai waste no time in playing some new stuff, opening with 'Heard About You Last Night' and it's immediately an enormous sound. Soon enough, they reach a section of with giant distorted sounds and the interweaving textures envelope the room in waves of guitar noise and everything is beautiful for a moment. The bass guitar starts to genuinely rattle my bones as cavernous snare sounds make my hair stand on end and kick drums feel like they're trying to cave my chest in. A violinist comes on stage to add some extra noise to the cacophony unfolding in front of us and a third guitar appears from somewhere, that they can even manage to hold actual grooves together at such insane volumes and densities astounds me.

They seem content to stay away from their prettier, more dynamic material opting instead for intricate electronic textures and noisy builds, except for the one song that builds down to near silence, the audience so engaged you could hear a pin drop. In classic post-rock fashion, this is immediately followed by the biggest gale force of the night.

Once the strobe lights are finished destroying my eyes and the noise trickles out as the band leaves the stage, I collect my jaw from the floor and try to figure out where I am and how to get home. It takes me a while to remember I drove.

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