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mogwai
 

Aberdeen

At last! It's the 26th of August!
I had phoned up and got a photo pass so I could take some photos for this website and my fanzines and then I had to just wait for Wednesday. And then, even when it was Wednesday I had to sit and wait until it was about 5 o'clock until it was likely they'd have arrived. As I walked to the Lemon Tree I felt like stopping people and telling them to come and see Mogwai - all these lucky people in Aberdeen could just walk down the road and see Mogwai tonight and they probably didn't realise it. I managed not to act like a mad person though and made it to the Lemon Tree where I discovered an enormous coach being unloaded by unrecognisable people. I hovered around pathetically and then ventured on to the stage whereupon I recognised Dominic. "I'm here to take photos", I said and he waved me in.

I picked my way carefully across the stage and spotted Stuart at a table full of people. He said hello and took his feet off the nearest chair so I could sit down. Polite small talk was made until John from the Yummy Fur (as I later discovered it was) wandered over and started asking technical questions about Mogwai's equipment, pronouncing, "no way!", after Stuart's every utterance. Mogwai do strange things with their equipment then, it seems. I think we realised that. Everyone seems bored and Stuart says he hates both board games and card games - that'll be his 3-second attention span then. I ask if they've been shopping yet and everyone pounces on me to ask if I know where record shops are. Of course I do so Stuart and the Yummy Fur with myself leading, make our way to One Up.

As we near the entrance I give directions, "CDs upstairs, vinyl downstairs". "Downstairs for me!", shouts everyone and we all race down the stairs. I don't think One Up will ever know what hit it - everyone rushes instinctively towards the second hand area and then run about showing each other records and talking non-stop until the bloke (the one who always sighs when I buy anything 'cos he thinks everything I buy is obscure and unfindable) tells us they're closing in a few minutes. Decisions are promptly made and purchased except for Stuart as they can't find the video he wants. We wander back to the Lemon Tree happily until John notices we've lost Stuart - slight panic ensues until we're told "he bumped into someone he knows at a bus stop". As you do.

John invites me to come up with them to the Yummy Fur dressing room so I do. They've got their own dressing room which impresses them hugely especially as it's got a big bell in it and a broken window. I fully intend to go downstairs for Mogwai's soundcheck but I get offered food and they're such fun that I stay. John keeps ribbing me about being a Mogwai fan - asking me to name the Mogwai songs we can hear drifting up through the floor.

Stuart wanders in after to find out what the food was like and to borrow the NME. He really wanted to ring the bell though. I watch the Yummy Fur's soundcheck and by the time that's over it's practically time for doors open. Mogwai hang about at the front of the stage to watch the Yummy Fur's short set due to their lack of bass player. In fact Stuart hangs around for most of the time in between bands too, possibly due to the sounds of Slint.

The venue decides right at the last minute not to let me take photos during Mogwai's set - I'm completely furious because, if they'd told me earlier, I could have taken photos during the soundcheck. Apparently they're worried about all the rabid Mogwai fans breaking down the barrier in their haste to clamber onstage and hug the band. This is obviously completely preposterous and indeed the few interested members of the audience seem to have little inclination for anything more than leaning slightly on the barrier. But the security staff are all being a bit fascist. Stuart tells me later that one of them asked him to move away from the entrance to the stage 'cos no-one was allowed to stand in it. "Aye, the reason you're keeping it clear is so that I can walk through it as a member of the band", countered Stuart. Reason means nothing to security though and he insisted on Stuart moving.

So Mogwai take the stage as I sulk back to my friends. They play the most amazing set - I'm completely shocked again. Every time I think I've got them sussed they turn up and smash all my expectations into the ground. Sometimes Mogwai sound like a fairground in hell, merry -go-rounds taken over by demons. Other times they sound like candyfloss but nobody's fooled any more. We know there will be hell to pay if we stop and dream.

Aberdeen talks loudly throughout the quiet bits but looks visibly shaken by the first outburst of noise. Nice move, starting with 'Mogwai Fear Satan'. Mind you, it makes little difference. People just start headbanging to the loud bits and talking through the quiet bits. "They don't look very happy, do they?', mutters David after a couple of songs. As if on cue, Stuart comes to the microphone and asks people to stop talking - he's sounding a bit stroppy and, as he turns away, he drops his guitar. Cue much cheering from audience - oh dear.

I don't know if it's anger but they just get louder and nastier. When the play 'Xmas Steps' I find myself creeping nearer the stage and closer to the speakers. I love people's faces when the riffing comes in and they go, 'oh, loud bit', and then the really loud bit comes in. I just drown myself in the noise and let it go right through me. At one point, it hits my spine and it's as if my entire nervous system gives way. You have to savour these moments. And then to follow this they play 'Like Herod' which is just completely spoiling me.

Then it's all over and no-one seems at all like they've just witnessed a unique event in Aberdeen's history and that they've ruined the chance of thousands of Aberdonians ever seeing Mogwai live, thanks to their selfish behaviour. Nicolette and Chris seem to be in first-time Mogwai exhilaration shock so we all stand about grinning a lot.

After a while I retrieve my beer from David and Chris and head upstairs to see what's happening. "You can't take that outside", moans the doorman. "Can I go upstairs?", I counter and he agrees, still under the impression that I'm the sixth member of the Yummy Fur. As I walk up the stairs, a woman rushes through the door and shouts, "Are you with the band?". "Yes", I lie, in believable bored voice and continue upstairs. They're very worried about rabid Mogwai fans here...

Stuart's in the Yummy Fur's dressing room and I sit next to him. He shows me his thumb which he cut during the gig and then starts moaning about how he'd forgotten why they never play places like Aberdeen any more. "You'll never come back, will you?", I ask, knowing what the answer will be. "No", replies Stuart succinctly, laughing at the look on my face. Oh well. Stuart can't understand why people would spend 7 to see a band they're not interested in. John agrees saying people should know what to expect with Mogwai but I disagree with this and tell them about the bloke who came up to me and asked, "Is it all instrumentals or do they do any songs with words?". "Mostly instrumentals", I tell him and I hear him passing this information on to his friends: "She says they do mostly instrumentals...". Sigh.

Stuart dominates the conversation in the room - basically he opens his mouth and doesn't shut it for the next thirty minutes. I have never met anyone with the talking ability of Stuart. Even when no-one's paying attention, he'll just take over someone else's conversation. He is incredibly funny though and a right old gossip too. Don't ever tell Stuart your secrets. He also admits that his trainers are the worst footwear ever - I thought the man just had no style but he's actually working on his own style - challenging accepted standards of clothing you can actually wear out of the house, maybe?

Stuart disappears at one point and I don't really see him again until everyone's about to get on the bus, off to Glasgow and then to Reading where more lucky people will get to experience the noise and wonder of Mogwai. It's sad to see them go but at least I got them here in the first place and I'll see them again even if it'll never again be in Aberdeen.

Marceline now lives in Glasgow and has seen Mogwai play over a dozen times

Article by Marceline Smith

 
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