Mogwai – Special Moves

Usually I do not give live aelbums much attention, but after hearing a few highly positive comments about post-rock band Mogwai’s only official live concert recording, I decided to check it out. Before listening to this album, I had heard very little of this band, so I have been introduced to the music of this band through this one vicarious experience of their Brooklyn Hall concert. I have not been much into post-rock as of late, but listening to Mogwai, I do get the impression as to why they are considered one of the genre’s frontrunners. At times highly melodic and vulnerable and and other times very noisy, the band exemplifies what the genre is all about, and ‘Special Moves’ gets their vibe across very well. To a newcomer though, these tracks can sometimes feel a bit too listless however, and the heaviest moments suffer from a poor mixing that takes away some of its power.

Despite some minor crowd ambiance and applause here and there, ‘Special Moves’ could have been easily misinterpreted as a studio recording for the most part. This works well in Mogwai’s favour; they are able to get the intense dynamics in their music across even in a live concert setting. Fortunately, the recording picks up even on the lightest flourishes the guitarists make. The highly sensitive mixing can make the heavier moments quite noisy and troublesome however; feeling as if the mix simply cannot handle the volume of the distorted guitars.

The songs here are performed quite beautifully, although a newcomer to this band such as myself may consider some of these tracks to be somewhat long-winded. The number one offender for this is the twelve minute sprawling ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’, which features some cool moments of beauty that get dragged about for far too long and almost end up sounding like a random jam.

Of course, the big achievement here is the way Mogwai actually perform their music together in a live setting, and at this, they succeed quite admirably. A fairly strong live record, and why it’s not entirely convincing, it provides an ethereal concert experience that fans of the band’s work would do well to jump into without hesitation.

Tracklist:

1. I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead (6:01)
2. Friend of the Night (5:30)
3. Hunted By A Freak (4:07)
4. Mogwai Fear Satan (11:43)
5. Cody (6:10)
6. You Don’t Know Jesus (5:31)
7. I Know You Are But What Am I (4:04)
8. I Love You, I’m Going To Blow Up Your School (7:57)
9. 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong (9:05)
10. Like Herod (10:38)
11. Glasgow Megasnake (3:50)

Line-up:

* Dominic Aitchison – bass guitar
* Stuart Braithwaite – guitar and vocals
* Martin Bulloch – drums
* Barry Burns – guitar and keyboard
* John Cummings – guitar

Links:

Mogwai official website

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