For an encore, Mogwai chose “How to Be a Werewolf” (white strobes all the way) and “Like Herod”. OK. I try, I REALLY try, to avoid being one of those irksome fans who constantly wishes Mogwai had any interest in their Young Team-era sound. But here are the facts: “Like Herod” was the one simmering moment of intensity in the whole set. The one moment when anyone on stage look liked (a) breaking a sweat (b) god forbid, enjoying themselves. The only two moments when my partner jumped out of her skin in surprise. It was the only song that had me so enraptured I forgot my notepad. Suddenly every half-obscure image worked. The lighting was set to “the building’s on fire”, and from the first notes, everything felt louder, hotter, as one watched/heard Mogwai cruelly blowing their own album off the stage.
Ultimately, as a filmed experience, what was on display was a paucity of ambition. Mogwai gave up on stagecraft, set design, and film technique, even suggesting that playing their music gave them joy. Watching a live show via a screen is an artificial experience. Still, if you refuse to embrace that artificiality, if you won’t commit to the creation of a spectacle, then you’re left with pretty lights. There was nothing that indicated there’d been time taken to familiarize the cameramen with the material or any effort to plan how to bind the visual and sonic layers compellingly. Mogwai proved on “Like Herod” that you don’t have to be Prince or Freddie Mercury to give a filmed performance that rises above “watchably average”. But it does require a band that doesn’t look like their own album premiere is a matter of disinterest.
Mogwai Perform Premiere of New Album 'As the Love Continues'