my ears finally stopped ringing thursday morning, about 50 hours after the show ended.
last night mike and i set out for lee’s palace to watch mogwai burn and pillage toronto. i’d found out earlier in the day that i was now on the guest list (through a complicated communication pipeline involving my brother tim, his co-worker paul, martin bulloch and martin’s girlfriend), so we had two tickets to give away. two people accepted the offer but then elected to skip the concert, the silly bastards. didn’t they know? meh. as it turns out, mike and i got ourselves into the show for free courtesy of wee marty, and then sold our tickets. scalpers outside were asking $70 for a pair of $20 tickets, and – after much confusion on my part – one of them gave me $50(!) for my pair. so, basically, someone paid mike and i $10 to go see mogwai last night. our night was made already! so, we walked inside and i got a pint of the dark stuff; mike got some pussy german beer, i’m not sure which.
mighty flashlight opened – it turns out i’d heard their stuff before though i didn’t remember them. they weren’t great, but not horrible either. the one thing i really loved about them was that they got on and off the stage in about 30 minutes, bless ’em. bravo, guys, well done. no one’s there to see you, just show us what you’ve got and get your asses backstage to drink mogwai’s beer. apparently they did just this, and then barry called us cunts for it later. anyway…
so, with a tiny little bit of fanfare, mogwai took the stage a little after 11:00. the perfect opening, too: “yes! i am a long way from home”, and the crowd went loopy right from the first notes. well…polite canadian loopy. at the beginning of every song that the crowd was really waiting for – “xmas steps”, “like herod”, “helicon 1” – we’d start yelping, but then become quiet and reverent as torontonians are wont to do. stuart seemed a bit confused by this, as if expecting us to let it all out at some point instead of standing and swaying quietly. he may well have been berating us, too, but no one could understand a word the little fucker said except, “thanks!”. ach, we went loopy anyway.
highlights…well, all of ’em. you know there’s usually a spot or two in a concert where you’re just not into the song? even the trail of dead concert had that, when jason reece was really off his nut singing “aged dolls” or “homage”…but this show last night didn’t have that. i was actually wary of the material from rock action that i knew would be played, since it’s my least favourite disc, but the kick at a live show can do a lot for songs, so “2 rights make one wrong” and “you don’t know jesus” sounded a lot better than i’d remembered. the fact that they played “like herod” and “helicon 1” was just gravy. i can point out two favourite spots in the whole night, though: first, during the quietest part of “xmas steps”, when it was just stuart playing reallw low, we could hear all the noise from the bar – bottles clinking, drinks spilling, conversations between the people at the bar too fucking wasted to know rock warfare was being waged 75 feet to the south – mixed in with the music. mike leaned over to me and said, “i can’t believe it’s so quiet…you can hear a pin drop in here!”. my response: “yeah…that ain’t gonna last.” and as if on cue, whammo. devil music. the same thing happened during “like herod”.
but my absolute favourite moment was near the end of the encore, when “my father my king” was well into the second movement (my apologies for using so wanky a term as “movement” to describe a mogwai song, but “part” or section” didn’t sound grandiose enough), and we all knew it was the end. stuart distilled the whole mogwai night down to one little move: he reached over to his marshall stack and just drove his hand to the right, over all of the knobs, throwing everything up to ten. it was such a little thing, but it seemed perfect. you want loud? here’s loud. jewish fucking hymns require more power. by the final note everyone in the place was clapping, but wearing stunned looks. why? though we were clapping and yelling as loud as we could, we couldn’t hear ourselves. i was clapping inches from my nose and i couldn’t hear it at all. we’d lost. they’d won. we should’ve known better.
when i got home, i couldn’t sleep as there were two tiny men in my ears hitting china cymbals with xylophone mallets. they’re still at it, 17 hours later. i think big sugar is the only other band to do this to my head. trail of dead had two cracks at me and didn’t manage that. fucking young team, man.
ok, uhhhh…i know i already sent this out, like, six months ago. but i should really have known better than to do so when music from 2001 was still rolling in. so, now…the revised list. some cds have changed position, some have fallen off the chart altogether. and so, without further ado:
10 . revolt against tired noises . stratford 4 . brmc (who you’ll read about in roughly 60 seconds) de-fuzzed, in an echo chamber, with a female voice or two.
09 . y’all get scared now, ya hear? . the reindeer section . supergroup. members of mogwai, snow patrol, belle & sebastien, astrid, arab strap and others get together and cut a cd after meeting up at a folk implosion show. you can hear barlow’s influence throughout. there’s some gorgeous mellow music here.
08 . brmc . black rebel motorcycle club . imagine the jesus and mary chain on a 70s revival tour, but with more hooks.
07 . amnesiac . radiohead . spotty. brilliant at times (“packt like sardines in a crushd tin box”, “you & whose army?”, “knives out”, “dollars and cents”, “spinning plates”), but for shit at times as well.
06 . those who tell the truth shall die those who tell the truth shall live . explosions in the sky . i don’t know how to describe them. instrumental. cinematic. something midway between those two.
05 . asleep in the back . elbow . this is what i wrote before: “take radiohead. extract thom yorke and replace him with rob dickinson from catherine wheel. add jordon zadorozny from blinker the star to do some guitar canoodling and maybe even a little bit of gomez’s pseudo-latin influence, mix well with a bunch of anti-rockstar pixie dust and you have elbow.”
04 . let it come down . spiritualized . the best live show i’ve seen since…well, since trail of dead back in march. but one of the top five i’ve seen, i think. space rock? nah. call it taking a therapist’s-eye-view via the music of someone in the nth stage of self-destruction. or brilliance. or something midway between those two.
03 . mass romantic . the new pornographers . another ‘supergroup’. quite possibly the catchiest songs this side of the charlatans uk or the beta band, and with the strangely captivating voice of neko case too. you can’t go wrong.
02 . white blood cells . the white stripes . garage rockers in the guise of saviours. they appeal to the minimalist in me. they’ve shed a lot of the blues that showed up in their earlier music – usually a bad thing – but they’ve pushed it a little closer to punk and it works, goddammit. take my advice: throw the entire ouevre of the strokes into the toilet and use it for target practice. this is it.
01 . agaetis byrjun . sigur ros . [insert standard dan gushy-gush explanation of the word “genius” and how it applies to sigur ros here]
bardo pond . dilate
beta band, the . hot shots ii
dylan, bob . love and theft
guided by voices . isolation drills
harcourt, ed . here be monsters
kim band, the . girlology
muse . origin of symmetry
phillips, grant lee . mobilize
starsailor . love is here
tielli, martin . we didn’t even suspect that he was the poppy salesman
award for ep based solely on interpretation of old jewish folk tune
mogwai . my father, my king
uhhh…more honorable mentions
Clairvoyants . Your New Boundaries
Crystal Method, The . Tweekend
Eels . Souljacker
Farrell, Perry . Song Yet To Be Sung
Good, Matthew . Audio Of Being
Pedro The Lion . The Only Reason I Feel Secure
Silver Mt. Zion . Born Into Trouble As Sparks Fly Upward
Super Furry Animals . Rings Around The World
Toadies . Hell Below / Stars Above
Tool . Lateralus
ok, that’s it, honest. i bought another 20 cds last year, but i won’t mention those. go. god be with you.
ok, so the habs decided to lay down and die last night. really, from the third period of game four on, they looked like they’d thrown it in. they were up two games to one, with a three-goal third period lead. then came the bullshit cross-checking call, then the bench minor. then came the folding of the tents.
after the sting of lost opportunity passes, the canadiens and their fans will reflect on the season, and how improbable their playoff run really was. saku koivu, their captain and best forward was diagnosed with cancer, for christ’s sake. they traded for donald audette to add offensive spark, and he promptly placed his arm under a skate and was lost for most of the season. also lost for an extended period was sheldon souray. doug gilmour, their leader in the second half, was unofficially retired a year earlier. and then there was the hero, the saviour, the bedrock…jose theodore, whose playoff experience was next to nil but whose regular season earned him nominations for both the hart and vezina trophies. this team should never have made the playoffs, let alone upset the goliath bruins in the first round. they were better than anyone could have expected.
which is why it now feels so raw to think of what they had by the throat…and let slip away.
go see the last waltz. it’s been re-released to theatres now that scorsese has finally recovered from the high we was on during the filming. if it’s not playing at a theatre you can get to, rent it. wait for the dvd if you can, though; it’s out may 7.
one of the best rock documentaries ever made, without a doubt. it’s worth it just to see muddy waters show the world how blues and rock are children born of a common mother.