MUGSTAR | LIVE REVIEW
The Moon, Cardiff, Fri 27 Oct
As resumés go, Mugstar’s is certainly one to make the mouth water and the ears prick up in eager anticipation. The Liverpool-based outfit have notched a split 7” with Mudhoney, a split album with Oneida (Collisions 2, released on Rocket Recordings) and a live album recorded with Can’s Damo Suzuki (Start From Zero). They’ve earned the patronage of both John Peel, who played their debut single Spotlight Over Memphis and invited them to record what would turn out to be one of the last Peel sessions in 2004, and post-rock godfathers Mogwai, whose Rock Action imprint released their 2016 double album Magnetic Seasons.
With a CV like that, you wouldn’t hesitate to hire Mugstar for the job of entertaining a well-oiled Friday night crowd at the Moon – especially as they already have prior experience, having appeared here in May last year as part of the Strange Daze festival. Now they’re back to treat us to material from forthcoming album Collapsar, another double LP that’s set to appear via the Evil Hoodoo label.
What sets Mugstar apart from their psych-rock brethren is, arguably, their breadth of influences. Black Sabbath riffage, while never unwelcome, is hardly novel in the field, but otherwise they seem much less interested in messy, druggy sprawl than many of their peers, instead appearing to be preoccupied with the rhythm, repetition and groove found in Krautrock. Unfortunately and surprisingly, the first half of tonight’s set is rather tame, the band seeming somewhat hesitant and lacking in conviction. Each song promises to take us on an epic journey, only to renege on that promise and park up after a couple of loops around the block. They’re merely light exercises rather than full-blooded workouts.
All that changes, though, for the final two songs, for which everything locks firmly into place to approximate the sound of Hawkwind riding a supercharged Harley Davidson along the autobahn and into outer space. It’s taken a while, but in the end the Skull Scorchers & Neuron Phasers tour lives up to its name.
words BEN WOOLHEAD photos IAN FRASER