Mogwai, Mugstar, Forest Swords Live: Camp and Furnace, Liverpool 24-10-14

Oww! My ears!

I have been looking forward to this gig for ages, my favourite local space rockers and Mogwai, a band I’ve loved for years but just never got around to seeing live – at my favourite local venue too.  What a great combo! And then they added Forest Swords to the bill.  What could possibly go wrong? Well, a bit, as it happened.

Feets don't fail me now
Feets don’t fail me now

It possibly didn’t help matters that I had to drop my son off at 2.30am yesterday morning to get a coach, before going back to bed for three hours and then doing a full day’s work, powered by sugary sweets and caffeine.  Add three pints of Erdinger into the mix on an empty stomach and I suspect that I had the equivalent of three days’ worth of hallucinogens partying on down somewhere inside my central cortex.

My chum Will and I got to the venue nice and early to make sure we saw Mugstar open the bill, got down the front easily and really enjoyed the first four songs they played – three newies and, correct me if I’m wrong, ‘Black Fountain’.  The new songs were great too, featuring a slightly rockier tint if I’m not too mistaken, the last track almost sounded a bit like Zeppelin in terms of its’ dynamics, some very good Quiet/Loud going on.  So there we were grooving, my head hovering on the border between head banging/nodding very enthusiastically, swaying around, lost in the music and then … it was over.  20-25 minutes maximum.  It was hugely disappointing and not only for me.  Mugstar need longer to hit you in full effect, at least double the time they got.  You could sense that they were really getting into it and the crowd too, just as they finished.

Mugstar Camp & Furnace

Ah well, again, as I am every time I see them, I was so impressed with their musicianship; they are all excellent and Steve Ashton is a real stand-out drummer for me.   Until the next time, I consoled myself by buying a copy of their …Sun, Broken… LP from their merch stall, originally from 2010 it has been recently re-released (first time on vinyl) with a great foil cover and sumptuous marbled vinyl (salivates).  I also collared their gentleman guitarist Neil later and apparently we shouldn’t have to wait too long for new material.

Believe it or not, no tampering by me here - this is just how it came out of my camera
Believe it or not, no tampering by me here – this is just how it came out of my camera

Forest Swords were next up and I was at the back of the hall talking to some friends at the bar and despite my teenage/obsessive need to be as close to any band I ever see as I can be, I was very glad I wasn’t any nearer on this occasion.  Right from the first seconds the bass was so loud and so low that I really could feel my innards being scrambled and this was with at least 500 people between me and the speakers – what it must have felt like closer in, Crom alone knows! The only comparable sensation I have ever had was seeing Jah Wobble & The Invaders Of The Heart about 100 years ago now (give, or take).

Thor's Rock
Thor’s Rock

Forest Swords are from the Wirral* and they (he?) create strange, dubbed-out ambient soundscapes using a lot of field recordings I’m told.  A particular favourite place, featured in numerous of their projections last night, is a favourite place of mine here too – Thor’s Stone – a huge slab of sandstone, supposedly hurled at a giant by Thor which came crashing down here on the Wirral**.  It’s a very mystical feeling place hidden away in almost primordial scrub woodland, I go there a lot and, I would gather, Mr F.Swords does too.  I enjoyed their set, I like this type of music, it was very inventive and original sounding, but after a while it started to drag on me.  I wanted the ‘up’ that a good rock band would give me, that lift of interaction with crowd and I wasn’t getting it from them.  It clearly isn’t Forest Swords’ fault but in my view the running order should have been reversed and both support acts given equal length sets^.

Mogwai Mugstar 05

Mogwai had a loud, large vociferous crowd all of their own.  I think it’s great that such a sonically uncompromising, clever group have found such an audience, a fanatical one at that.  It’s a little pointless digging out specific tracks from the set, you have to deal with it as a full-on whole.  I recognized bits from all the Mogwai I own and plenty of it I didn’t.  I can’t think of another band who are so much about the build-up inside each song, sometimes you get that cathartic release of volume other times you don’t, they just tease you with the possibility of it.  I’ve seen plenty of great musicians live too and each and every Mogwai is up there, right up there with the very best – the precision you need to play this type of music to this level is just astonishing, for a band who can really bludgeon you when they rip it up, most of the time Mogwai are far more of a scalpel.

Mogwai Mugstar 06

What else can I say? they lifted us up, they let us fall, they lifted us right back up again and kept us there and thanked us for letting them.  It was an absolute master class, a very loud master class.  A very, very loud master class.

Mogwai Mugstar 07
Best LP-themed lighting rig since Motörhead’s Bomber?

462 Down (still)

*the sticky out bit underneath Liverpool for all you non locals.

**that’s half-remembered legend, always better than stone-cold fact, surely?

^I ordered their 2013 LP Engravings as soon as I got up this morning though.

13 thoughts on “Mogwai, Mugstar, Forest Swords Live: Camp and Furnace, Liverpool 24-10-14

  1. How disappointing about Mugstar. That’s a band that needs time to sprawl out and get soaked up in your head. Damn shame, right there. As for Forest Swords I think you’re right…they should’ve opened to show.

    Despite the lack of sleep, it sounds like it was still an enjoyable evening, and you can mark seeing Mogwai live off the bucket list. And you left with your hearing still intact, right?

    1. Absolutely, it was a really great night. Three really good acts in my favourite venue, but I just wanted Mugstar to have longer.

      Hearing was/is as good as it was when I got in there. My eyesight after the lights, that’s a different matter.

    1. I know, I still haven’t worked out how to incorporate it into a live setting yet – to be honest I wouldn’t have trusted myself with anything with such small pieces, I was that dog tired!

      1. It was for his kids, but I had a lot of fun searching for him. Apparently his town didn’t have the sets, so I checked here, and we had ’em! I was able to give them Lego to him last week when we went to Toronto. He was happy and I had fun (and it gave me an excuse to buy the 6″ Star Wars bike scout figure).

      2. We don’t own any Star Wars Lego, quite a bit of Harry Potter, but not SW. Sadly, my kids are in charge of it and I just borrow bits and pieces to expose on the internet occasionally.

      3. I sold 99% of my SW Lego. The people who collect it are fanatics! I have two sets left which are special to me. My Masterpiece Y-Wing fighter that I bought the day before I met Jen, and my Jawa Sandcrawler because it is HUGE AND AWESOME.

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