Photo by Rasmus Sleimann Nielsen
I was a bit anxious coming into this concert, with the Facebook event not really being shown much interest from the local music lovers, as well as not many even having heard of it. I guess a lot of thoughts crossed my mind, with the most important one, next to the number of people showing, being: What’s it gonna be like with a Mogwai concert in Rådhushallen?
I’d gone through the Atomic album quite a few times before going to this one, knowing that it requires quite a bit from the venue for Mogwai to actually create this huge, noisy soundscape. That was actually my biggest concern, knowing that Rådhushallen is this huge, open room – and since I’ve never experienced a concert there before. Didn’t take me long to get rid of all my concerns after I first found my seat (yes – it was a ‘sit-down-and-take-it-all-in-concert’), and started looking at this incredible room, where a huge stage had been built – and behind it stood what could easily be considered ‘a big screen’. Minutes go by, and as the room is almost packed, Mogwai takes the stage.
The room is dead silence, as the movie ‘Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise’ starts – and the intro is accompanied by the first track from the Atomic album, Ether – and we’re off. The movie takes us through the history of the nuclear industry, showing us explosions, images of victims of the Hiroshima bombing, the tragedy in Chernobyl – but also later footage that shows, how we can actually make good use of this industry. It’s a tough-to-watch movie, but at the same time, there’s something extremely beautiful about the footage they’ve put together. On this old footage there’s either a speaker or a narrator, but as the music starts, the story is told through subtitles. Going from movie to music, and from music to movie, can be a bit disturbing, as it’s difficult not to disappear in either the big screen or the musicians on stage. That seemed to be the only problem on this magical evening.
The destruction and fear being shown is a perfect match with the dark soundtrack performed by these talented Scotsmen – and it brought along this weird feeling; the footage being shown could be from the 40’s to the 80’s, but honestly it seemed like they could’ve been from any decade what so ever, even a future one. Some old clip from the 60’s showing fear and political cynicism didn’t seem that far away. But it’s not only a one-dimensional thing, as the movie also gives us footage of how we can actually make good use of the nuclear industry.
Mogwai performed with the quality, precision and superiority they’re known for. They created that enormous, noisy soundscape in this incredible room – and at the end, they gave us that musical explosion before leaving the stage – and it wasn’t exactly in time for them to experience the standing ovation from the crowd.
When walking out from Rådhushallen we witnessed happy faces, happy music, people chilling out and drinking beers. I didn’t want any of that; I simply had to go home and digest what I’d just experienced. It took me a long time to fall asleep last night.
It was one of those experiences you rarely get, and I actually wanna thank Aarhus Festuge for giving me the chance to experience just that.