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.