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Live Review: Modest Mouse @ The Troxy

September 13, 2010

Originally posted on The 405

Venue: The Troxy, London
Date: 08/09/10
Link: Official Site

As summer falls, the hurtling pace of descending nightfall increases daily and the unsettling, new-beginning rhetoric of September dawns, it all seems like an appropriate time to revel in the cosmic anomie of the superlative Modest Mouse. With no album to plug to speak of (it’s been a good three-and-a-half years since the release of last ‘full-album’ We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank) tonight almost seemed a celebration of the career of Isaac Brock and co; exacerbated by the generous and impassioned fandom of the Mouse. Hell, it’s not even one of those ‘new material tester’ gigs.

At the oddly-all-carpeted auditorium of The Troxy, the evening started with long-time favourite ‘Dramamine’, a delicate, glorious and malevolent beast as a live fixture – and followed by the equally as delicate ‘Gravity Rides Everything’. But then… ‘Dashboard’ is unleashed, and we’ve got ourselves a kinetic energy kind-of vibe. And in this shift in the space of seconds is part of the beauty of Modest Mouse summed up in a microcosm; the stunning depth and layers in style of which they posses – introspection to an extroversion (of sorts).

Throughout the 90 minutes which they occupy (enthral), tracks from eight albums/EPs/releases* we are treated to, which is a breathtaking achievement and shows remarkable consistency. Isaac Brock, who has seemingly come to an accepted of himself and life in general more so these days, still performs each track with such a believable, unbelievable intensity, concentration and crushing angst* The quiet parts Brock almost whispers with a gruff, hair-raising and ethereal quality, before transforming into a larynx-busting, ferocious alter-ego as the bitterness is released from within; often within the same song. Exhausting.

‘Cowboy Dan’, a possible highlight, is exactly this; a calm before the storm interrupted with a blood curdling ‘WELL…’ before he continues into a stream-of-conscious style of verse. Even the more optimistic lyrics and tone of ‘Float On’, which inevitably brings the house down, are played with every fibre of being, from all members of Modest Mouse (Jim Fairchild on duty tonight on guitar, not Mr. Marr by the way).

The audience receives little stage banter, but this is not particularly an issue. The closest we get is a rogue song request from the front row, which is put down with a slightly acerbic “We could play your request… or we could play my request” from Brock.

‘Spitting Venom’, the final song before the (lengthy) encore break, just kills it. A sprawling epic lasting 10 minutes, it builds and builds, the joyful brass emerges triumphantly half-way through, and what can only be described as a long rock-out at the end, crescendo after crescendo. See also: ‘King Rat’. A new found love for these two is surely discovered for all present, well, if they weren’t already. In fact a few extended outros are featured over the evening, never feeling self-indulgent, always feeling hugely engrossing. Or, if you were one of the lively bunch in the lower circle, it was a perfect time for a mass of moshing, sprawling bodies. They sure attract a diverse crowd don’t they?

It seems unfair to miss out specific tracks, but this review has to conclude sometime. ‘Bukowski’ another highlight*, harmonic misanthropy never sounding so gorgeous – ‘God who would want to be… such an asshole?’ a pleasure to hear hundreds singing in unison.

A very special show; even the lack of Trailer Trash didn’t dampen any enthusiasm. No complaints – Modest Mouse have no doubt soundtracked some crucial years of existence of all-present tonight, and long may this continue.

Footnotes

* Even photographing him was at times proved an uncomfortable experience somewhat, such was this brittle concentration. I felt as if I shouldn’t be sticking a lens in his face and hanging around his personal space whilst he was obviously giving it everything. Plus, ya know, that massive awestruck feeling.

* Five from Good News…
Three from The Moon & Antarctica
Two from This is a Long Drive…
Two from We Were Dead….
Two from No One’s First…
Two from Building Nothing Out…
One from Lonesome Crowded West
One unreleased Ugly Casanova track (Here’s to Now)

*There were some girls talking incessantly during the good bits (ie. all of it) of ‘Bukowski’, in which I thought what would Bukowski do? But I didn’t do as he’d have done, as I didn’t want to get chucked out/arrested/beaten-up.

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