Mogwai at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, 22nd July 2011
Words and Photos by Antony Roberts
The De La What many of you may be asking? Where’s Bexhill and why are Mogwai playing there? For those of you none the wiser, Bexhill is on the South coast of England between Hastings and Brighton. It’s more famous for it’s large population of old people than staging events by behemoths of post rock. It had little going for it for years, but about 10 years ago the De La Warr Pavilion successfully applied for lottery money and has put it to good use with some serious renovation work and a new sound system. Slowly but surely it’s starting to draw in large names; Tricky, Beardyman, Heritage Orchestra, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan have all played in recent years. Early next year a certain ex-singer of Black Flag you may be familiar with is doing spoken word there. It’s a very small venue for the size of bands it’s getting, so definitely worth a venture if you’re able to get to it.
Support band Errors are definitely not within the realm of what this site covers, I’d say fans who like electronic pop mixed with Battles-esque timings may find some solace in their work.
Mogwai came on to a fairly packed crowd, I was told it was not sold out, but it was certainly busy. Starting with “White Noise” from new album “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will”, this set the tone for the rest of the evening, soaring delayed guitars echoed around the large expanse of De La Warr’s main room. The majority of the set was geared around the new album which only recently came out in February this year. “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead” from “The Hawk Is Howling” highlighted the sheer opposites in Mogwai’s music. Piano led tones jumped from ethereal minimalism that could weave you into the sweetest dreams, before fighting an ever ascending battle with a brutal clustered wall of delayed guitars that backhand you awake.
During songs a backdrop of visuals added to the performance showing random clips of journeys through mountains, headcams of flickering images, clouds, and random lights. The night is marred only slightly by some songs being a little too bass heavy particularly on the left hand side of the hall, and the annoyance that was a drunk idiot heckling the band between songs. This was not the normal fan yelling requests for songs but someone yelling at the band to stop being “so lame and so pedestrian”. Why anyone would buy a ticket for a concert with a band they don’t like I have no idea but I’m guessing he was ejected as it stopped after a while.
This was definitely one of the loudest performances i’ve been to at the De La Warr and it benefitted Mogwai’s set. The juxtaposition of the delicately quiet sections and fierce build ups made them even more epic than on record, and when they finally came crashing down back to near silence you were left in sheer awe, ears ringing.
Whilst the new material came across well live, it was the encore that stole the performance of the night. At 20 minutes “My Father, My King” is almost a showpiece of everything Mogwai are capable of distilled into one giant weaving soundscape. Building a repetition of riffs that slowly leaked away into a sinister murmur, the second section jumped out violently as the band lurched in all directions creating a cacophony of feedback and white noise. Mission accomplished they headed stage left leaving a shocked audience cheering with admiration as the pitched squeals of their guitars continued to fill the hall.
Mogwai setlist – Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion, July 22 onstage 9.05pm
I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead
Letters to the Metro
How to be a Werewolf
2 rights make one wrong
Mexican Grand Prix
Encore: My Father My King