Live Review: Mogwai, The Red Paintings

3 March 2015 | 2:35 pm | Naomi Keyte

Mogwai were "dark, intense and thought-provoking" at Thebarton Theatre.

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The Red Paintings are a band you either love or hate.

There is nothing subtle about this four-piece Australian act. With an essentially punk rock sound, the inclusion of strings takes it to an evocative, and for some, overcomplicated place. Dressed in futuristic geisha-like costumes the band is bold in their visual aesthetic. Unfortunately McSweeney sings in an American accent, which somehow cheapens their sound. Lacking that element of class, perhaps The Red Paintings were not quite the right opener for Mogwai.

It has been over a decade since Mogwai performed in Adelaide. The Glaswegian kings of post rock performed at the historic Thebarton Theatre on the opening night of the Adelaide Festival.

It is hard to distil into words the atmosphere and experience that Mogwai’s immense sound evoked. It was almost a three-dimensional sonic experience, immersive and overwhelming and at the same time deeply calming. The repetitive nature of their tracks allowed the mind to wander.

Mogwai are touring their latest release, Rave Tapes, and were entirely seamless: totally in control of their monstrous sound. Their use of dynamics is second to none and they truly understand the beauty and power of simplicity. Switching instruments every few songs, the five-piece morphed from industrial to delicately mournful. Vocalists Stuart Braithwaite and John Cummings only sung a few songs, as the band kept mostly to their renowned instrumental format.

Shimmering violin work from touring member Luke Sutherland was a highlight, as was the impeccable drumming of Martin Bulloch. The show was enhanced by a beautiful light installation that created a somewhat otherworldly atmosphere.

The band formed in 1995 and their 15 years of playing together is evident in the ease with which these men play. Their use of technology and the way they harness their huge sound is simply brilliant. Mogwai were a perfect choice for the Adelaide Festival: dark, intense and thought-provoking. Let’s just hope they return a little sooner this time.