Mogwai: Reykjavik Idno

Mogwai perform tracks from forthcoming album 'Rock Action' in Iceland...

When Mogwai arrive on stage at Idno in Reykjavik, Iceland’s bobble-hatted indie-kids look like they’re queuing up, but don’t know why. Mogwai have a big following here (or at least as big a following as a band can have in a nation with a population of 270,000) but still, there’s some kind of apprehension – like the Icelanders are unsure about how to conduct themselves.

Still, Idno is a peculiar venue for those that have learned to love the sweaty-stench-slippy-floor school of gigging. This ornately decorated little theatre is a rather civilised setting for the deliverance of the much-anticipated ‘Rock Action’. And if the crowd’s collective consciousness has one question to ask, it was, “Is moshing allowed in here?”

But by the time Mogwai had reach ‘Xmas Steps’, however, Reykjavik’s youth have received the sound like a dose of heroin. As a rule, it takes a good few pints and a couple of shots to loosen up the Icelanders, and they don’t

go in for that at nine o’clock on a Tuesday evening. But nonetheless, a wave of serious head nodding emerges – the only visible confirmation that the entranced audience are taking what’s on offer to heart.

By the time SFA’s Gruff and Cian creep on stage, and hunker down to deliver the brilliant ‘Dial: Revenge’ from a large sheet of brown paper, it looks like the Icelanders are in a state of shock. New songs like ‘Sine Wave’, ‘O I Sleep’ and ‘Two Rights Make A Wrong’ tease them in with a gentle, Indian-influenced lull, and just as eyes are ready to close, the Mogwai cavalry arrive with the onslaught of musical fury. The audience are being toyed with, and they love it.

The Reverend Arthur Baker’s gift to the band, a track entitled, ‘Jewish Hymn’ puts the end to what has to be the best set the Icelanders will hear this year. They wander off a bit bemused, and the collective consciousness is wondering, “What the fuck happened there?”

Jennifer McCormack