Mogwai – Colston Hall, Bristol

Saturday 3rd February.

I came to Mogwai late, only last year, thanks to  Mary Anne Hobbs (yes, her again) and have been in love with them ever since I first heard Coolverine. This was a gig I’d been looking forward to for months, and both Tom and Claire had independently bought me a ticket for it, that’s how much those close to me knew I wanted to go!

Due to the ongoing nerve pain/damage in my arm and shoulder I knew that getting down the front wasn’t going to be an option, so we plumped for second row seats instead. I could just about see above the crowd when standing, or perched half seated on my upturned seat. Being all in a row also allowed me, Tom, Claire, Jacqui and Monty to share in the gig together, which was pretty special all of its own.

There was excellent support from Out Lines, another Glasgow collective, who do a nice line in beautiful melancholia. I’m not at all sure what the squeeze box/sideways accordion is actually called, but the drone sounds emanating from it were great. I would recommend listening to them and seeing them live if you can.

Mogwai. Oh, what can I say? From the opening notes to the very end I was enraptured. This was a visceral, enveloping gig that shook me in just about every way. It was so loud! The loudest gig I’ve ever been to. The bass didn’t just rumble, it shook and thundered through you like nothing I’ve experienced before. Claire and I both kept shouting yes as it got more intense, “its making the underwing of my bra vibrate” she declared!

The lighting and sound designers of this show deserve such credit, they threw everything they could at us and made it such an overwhelming and incredible experience. It was an assault on all your senses at once, physically and emotionally. I was moved over and over. There was such joy in the intensity of the sound, such visceral thrill in the sheer power of the volume. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried at least twice, just with the overwhelming nature of it all. It was superb. I’ve no idea what tracks they played, just that they all sounded amazing. The standout came 2 tracks before the encore, that started out quieter and then built and built and built until it kicked so fucking hard that it made me jump. It was awesome.Brilliant. Magnificent. I loved every single second of this gig.

Quite simply it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.

 

Daylight Music – Union Chapel, London

Saturday February 3rd. Tiny Leaves and Bennett Wilson Poole.

We were in London anyway and had open return train tickets so I suggested to Tom that we headed to Union Chapel to catch the Daylight Music gig. For one reason and another we ended up being a bit late and missing the first act and came in towards the end of Tiny Leaves. Which is such a shame, because what I heard of them I liked very much indeed. Listening to them now I am even more gutted that we missed most of them. Gorgeous sounds, all instrumental and lush.

The final act were Bennett Wilson Poole playing a mixture of acoustic and 12 string Rickenbacker with vocals. As enthusiastic and full of harmony as they were, they weren’t for me. It was too blokey and slightly in crowd for me.

Union Chapel was every bit as beautiful and beguiling as the first time I visited in November and I will definitely pay Daylight Music another visit when I can. What a magnificent idea, great music in relaxed surroundings, with tea and cake, for the price of a donation! If you are in or around London of a Saturday lunchtime during their season, go. Whoever is playing, the experience is worthwhile, I promise.

Nadine Shah – The Roundhouse, London

Friday 2nd February.

I have been suffering with a trapped nerve/impingement in my neck, causing pain and numbness through my right shoulder, arm and fingers for a few weeks. I was a little bit nervous of making the trip up to London for this gig. All those extra people jostling about and the bumpiness of the train!  The gig tickets, the hotel and the train tickets were all pre booked and paid for so there was no real choice but to go and hope for the best.

Despite having lived in London for the majority of my life I had never been to the Roundhouse before. Nadine Shah is an artist Tom and I both really like, so when he offered to get us tickets I could hardly say no. She has one of those unique and memorable voices, it would have been churlish to not hear her live.

We were late and missed the support act, which is a shame as the guy sat next to us described them as “jazz. weird jazz” which sounds like the sort of thing I would have really liked!

Tom had somehow managed to book us front row seats, so we had a superb view of the stage. I must find out more about the Roundhouse’s history, and go there again. The staff, including security (which was quite full on) were friendly (in London!) and the space itself was smashing. It was quite theatrical feeling, black drapes and in the round, with full tiered seating. You could be sat anywhere and have a great view I’d have thought.

Nadine opened with 3 songs from her latest album, Holiday Destination and her voice is even more powerful live. Backed by a group of excellent musicians, the sound was superb. The passion in her performance so evident and the emotion was written all over her face. She is a proper performer, giving her all whilst retaining total control of both her voice and the stage. This was a masterclass in politically powerful pop. There really isn’t enough of that about anymore and the reminders to continue to care in the face of a hostile world coming from the stage were heartfelt. As Nadine acknowledged, she was  performing in an echo chamber, but the call to amplify the voices of love against those of hate is always needed.

The final song, Mother Fighter, an impassioned and brilliant song, which was delivered with commitment and real soul, was the standout song of the night for me. I was reminded of a conversation I’d been having with my 11 year old son about Trump and the politics of hate, that the only way we win is with love. Is to shine light into the darkness and keep it shining, however bleak things seem.

Nadine Shah is an artist full of humanity and warmth, her talent and music one of those lights. Keep it shining.