Sunday, 12 July 2015

Modest Mouse, Leeds 02 Academy, July 8th 2015 (LIVE REVIEW)

We can forgive Modest Mouse's slightly later than billed appearance tonight inside Leeds' Academy with one glance at the venue's cluttered stage, prior to their appearance. Eight musicians to cater for (nine on occasion) needs quite the set up and no more so than a band who readily switch instruments at will. Our vantage point from high above the stage on the balcony provides us with the best possible viewing of such an intriguing hour and a half or so ahead of us. 
It's a privilege to get to see this rare appearance in our home-town of Leeds by the Washington legends. I mean where do you look next when watching Modest Mouse? There's so much going on at any one given point in the bands set. Why settle for one drummer when you can have two AND another additional percussionist eh? Frequent instrument rotations from the likes of Lisa Molinaro who readily shuffles between guitar, keys and violin. And a committed vocalist/guitarist with twenty odd years of playing gigs in his portfolio (and who will also turn 40 tomorrow) who leads this hugely talented collective of individuals.

The album gap between the recent 'Strangers To Ourselves' and its predecessor must have been cause for concern for the die hard MM fans who finally get chance to enjoy plenty of old tracks with the new. The hit of 'Lampshades On Fire' provides an early crowd pleasing moment as inevitably does 'Dashboard' with its fine trumpet and string arrangement. More so of course for 2004's biggie 'Float On', that ignites the audience vocally for its sing-a-long chorus. A personal highlight in the form of 'Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996)' with its funky groove and percussion-heavy stomp drops mid-set. Every single one of the groups members have their own space to shine in (albeit a small one) and seem well at ease with one another. There are a few moments of time-drag here and there between songs, and main man Isaac Brock's chatter with the crowd is largely inaudible. That said, this bands leader is in fine form...tearing at his guitars and clearly enjoying his role. At one point, singing and screeching into his guitar pick up as the instrument rests on his shoulder.

It's a well-oiled machine is that of Modest Mouse these days. Personnel may have undergone some fine tuning over the years but at the core is a band who are true to themselves and their audience. 'Journey' is often a terribly misused word and inaccurate for some here today gone tomorrow musical 'artists' . When a band has gone the distance that Modest Mouse have, and continue to evolve, inspire and create new chapters, now that is a journey.

Words - Pete Jackson

Modest Mouse official