Since Leith Theatre opened its doors once more as part of the Hidden Door festival in May 2017, fans of the much-loved venue have wondered what would be the ultimate test of its potential as one of the best venues in Scotland.
The answer was a Mogwai concert, with a hall so full that people were standing in doorways trying to catch a glimpse of the stage.
Mogwai, Leith Theatre *****
Now more than 20 years into their career and having turned their loud and largely instrumental sound into a trademark show that brings rock as close as it’s likely to get to classical, they’re the perfect band for the new-model, contemporary Edinburgh International Festival. Playing in front of a shaped “V” of lights – which gave the impression of either a chasm being ripped through the venue or a crack appearing onto a heavenly light, depending on how they were angled – the Lanarkshire-founded band played a symphonic 90 minutes, from the dreamlike tenderness of Cody to I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’s cold tension and the celebratory, redemptive 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong. The finale was a procession of their most beloved songs – the monumental Like Herod, an encore of Helicon 1 and the cathartic My Father, My King – and then the crowd were turned out, baking in sweat and yelling at each other about never having heard a gig so loud.
Even die-hard fans will have been hard-pressed to remember a better Mogwai show.