REVIEW: Mogwai, 6 Music Festival, O2 Academy, Newcastle

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WITH The War on Drugs, Sleater-Kinney and Interpol having already graced the O2 Academy stage, the BBC 6 Music Festival’s opening night carried a distinctly American tone.

That, though, was before the entrance of Friday’s headliners; Glasgow’s peerless post-rock titans, the mighty Mogwai.

Falling amidst their 20th anniversary, theirs was a performance of such aural majesty and awesome power it blitzed all before it, making the preceding acts sound like fish out of water by comparison.

It’s a live sound which, to put it lightly, is one of the most fulsome in existence, built around cavernous mountains of volume which leave you dazed, amazed, and in the best way possible feeling like your head’s being bludgeoned in.

However, as newcomers will have discovered, there’s far more to them than sheer noise, as they’re also masters of subtlety and slow burn.

Those seeking evidence need look no further than Hunted By The A Freak, whose vocorded waves gave off a creepy, almost haunting air, or indeed Remurdered, the slinking, sinister pulse of last year’s Rave Tapes, and by now a firm live favourite.

Naturally, though, it’s the loudest numbers which live longest in the memory - namely because they blow your brain and its previous contents into sweet, raucous oblivion.

Nowhere was this more so than on We’re No Here, the gargantuan, ear-splitting behemoth with which they signed-off, yet tonight’s crowning glory came not with that, but rather a moment which still surely ranks as their finest hour.

The song I’m referring to is, of course, Mogwai Fear Satan, a supreme, sprawling brew of beauty and brutality whose teased intro alone was enough to send shivers down the spine.

Epitomising their incendiary reputation, its vast, wondrous opening slowly subsided into a mid-section whose calmness and tranquillity bred the most flawed sense of security imaginable.

With no warning whatsoever, the band then cracked to life like a swing of Thor’s hammer; launching into a climax so explosive it had even the most seasoned observers taken aback in awe.

You know what, who needs objectivity? It’s basically one of the greatest streams of sound ever committed to tape.

All hail Mogwai!

* Tune into the 6 Music Festival across the weekend. See performances at www.bbc.co.uk/6music and highlights on the BBC Red Button across the week.