Thursday 6 November 2008

MGMT, Rock City

Tonight, it's another of those early gigs and as there are two support bands, we don't get there anywhere near early enough to catch Amazing Baby, who are the first of the three New York bands on tonight. They are over promoting their catchily titled 'Infinite F***ing Cross EP', available on free download you know.

We do get to see some of Violens, who have shades of headliners Mgmt about them but with a muddier sound or perhaps that's just coming from a bad mix. I feel there's something decent and quite poppy in there fighting to get out, I'm just not sure what. Further investigation probably required.

We nearly caught Mgmt at the Bodega Social back in February but after they were on Jools that gig though sold out instantly but they're soon back in Nottingham and now selling out the much bigger Rock City.

Opening with 'Weekend Wars', they proceeded to chalk off tracks from their excellent album 'Oracular Spectacular' at a considerable rate of knots. All of which convert impressively from CD to the live setting, sounding 'Spectacular' indeed. In fact, it's one of the best opening sequences to a gig I've seen this year.

Mgmt are primarily Ben Goldwasser, who twiddles knobs and plays all things electronic, along with Andrew VanWyngarden the front man, vocalist and lead guitarist. For this tour, the band has been extended to a five piece with the addition of a drummer, a bass player and a second guitarist. The extra guitar really works for me; I love the effect of all that guitar noise, blended over the top of a slightly psychedelic keyboard sound and some awesome drumming. They are also fascinating to watch as musicians, working well as a unit and showing not inconsiderable talent.

One thing they are not very good at is conversing with the crowd, there is little or no banter all night and what there is comes from guitarist, James Richardson.

After the 5th album track 'Pieces Of What', I'm thinking that they're soon going to run out of material. Then as 'Time To Pretend' sends everyone mental, I wonder how they're going to top that. Perhaps now would be a good time to get off the stage, despite the fact they've only put half an hour on the clock. It's all been impressive so far and every track has gone down well with the enthusiastic crowd.

I'm not totally sure what happens next, whether they play one track, two or maybe even four. Whether this is a collection of b-sides, new songs or songs they made when they were called Management and produced an album called 'Climbing To New Lows' in 2005, I don't know. I, like most of the crowd, only have the recent album. It could have a b-side called 'Metanoia', which also enjoyed a limited release in its own right. Metanoia means to change, and apparently the song is made up of 'bites' of different rock genres and as it also clocks in at nearly 14 minutes, that could be the answer. Who knows? I'm certainly not sure. One thing it does do it disperse the considerable momentum they had built up to 'Time To Pretend' and it was such a shame that they then lost it.

The band then revert to the disco thump of the song about eels... 'Electric Feel' before 'The Handshake' closes the set to vociferous applause.

The band are shouted back to play the two missing tracks from the album. They close with an almost instrument free rendition of 'Kids', it's all programmed keyboard work, which gets Rock City bouncing like I haven't seen since... well last week and Feeder's Buck Rogers but I must say this out bounces it.

In summary, it was half of one of the best gigs of the year. If Mgmt can produce a second album anywhere near as good as their first the resulting gigs are going to be something else.

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