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Mogwai, Leith Theatre, Edinburgh

  • Written by  Alex Watt (words), Julia Stryj (photographs)

The music strand of the International Festival continues at the Leith Theatre with a blast of post-rock from Mogwai with support from Rev Magnetic.

Rev Magnetic are a project of Mogwai collaborator, Luke Sutherland. They have a similar use of dynamics to Mogwai in their songs often beginning quietly and building to a wall of distorted sound. The vocals are sometimes quiet and clear and sometimes processed to produce a robotic sound. The performance is notable for these contrasts of loud and soft, clear and distorted, simple and processed. A notable stage presence is Audrey Bizouerne who brings energy to the stage with a clear high vocal and a gusto to her bass playing that makes it seem like a lead guitar at times. The vocal arrangements are quite complex but when they work they produce an almost grand, choral sound. There is probably a lot of development to come from this band as they clarify that sound but it will be one worth following.

Mogwai follow and are greeted with great enthusiasm by the Leith crowd. Their stage set uses long coloured light boxes either side of a central gap which can sometimes appear like an abyss and sometimes like the gaps in parting clouds letting in the light. This abstract light show accentuates the moods of their music but never becomes too proscriptive in its interpretation.

The opening is the soft chiming of ‘Heard About You Last Night’ which acts like a call for the attention of the audience and then develops into a blissful dream of the previous night’s action with the occasional black regret of episodes best, but not, forgotten. The set continues with a mix of tunes but the early part is heavily from their most recent (non-soundtrack) album ‘Every Country’s Sun’ which they are just finishing touring. ‘Party In The Dark’ is an up-tempo celebration where the use of echo creates reverberations like the voices of a thousand strong choir. Other numbers have an even more ethereal effect with ‘Don’t Believe The Fife’ feeling at times like a grand deep ocean exploration submerged under a kilometre of water with the muffled, echoing of notes bouncing off caves and rift walls on the sea-floor.


A Mogwai gig is an opportunity to be enveloped in their sound starting quietly but often building to huge, trouser-flapping volumes. Theirs is music to stimulate the imagination. It’s like being a 12-year-old kid who has the gates of Jurassic Park opened for them and told to go play with the animals. Mogwai often have limited edition prints available at their concerts and, for this one, the picture of Godzilla breathing down fire on Edinburgh Castle seemed a perfect starting point for many of the imaginings that this gig brings to mind. The sound is often majestic but somehow never takes itself too seriously.


‘Coolverine’ follows with a stately intent and then there is the attacking discord of ‘Old Poisons’. The closing numbers are some favourites from earlier albums. Their version of ‘Remurdered’ is the epitome of the wandering slow-build of volume in Mogwai’s music to a climax in a grand layering of musical textures. The numbers build to a prog-rock length with the final encore of ‘My Father My King’ which could have scored the Mongol Horde thundering in their tens of thousands across the Steppe. A gig that in more than one way was a blast.

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