Modest Mouse at Vega in Copenhagen: Not quite like Bukowski

by: Tim Anderson (

'Woke up this morning and it seemed to me that every night turns out be, a little bit more like Bukowski, and yeah I know he's a pretty good read, but God who'd wanna be such an asshole'
from Bukowski, Modest Mouse

It’s really not fair to simply refer to Modest Mouse as another 'rock band', and even less fair to call them an 'American Rock band'. Of course, labeling great bands is often problematic, isn’t it? Because Modest Mouse sound like, well, Modest Mouse.

I really can’t imagine exactly what sort of concert pre-preparation Modest Mouse lead singer Isaac Brock puts himself through prior to each show. Watching the band stomp through their set during their concert in Copenhagen on Monday night, one had to be awed by the staggering level of power and anger that he managed to channel and unleash over the course of the evening, song after song.

To understand just what a feat this is, ask yourself how many times you’ve yelled at the top of your lungs in the last month, even in the last year. It’s probably not often. Then consider how many times you’ve lost your voice on such an occasion when you found yourself having to yell, or at least talk rather loudly, for an extended period of time. Then consider that Isaac Brock does that not just each and every performance, but basically each and every song. It’s quite something.

Aside from that, it was a real treat to see them performing with Johnny Marr, formerly of The Smiths. Johnny Marr joined in during the recording of the last record (‘We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank’), initially just to do some songwriting. But he got along so well with the guys that he signed up to tour, as well. Incidently, it’s an pretty damn good album they made together.

When I heard this news of him joining the band, I was somewhat puzzled – and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. I really couldn’t see how an English guy, most famous for a bunch of songs he wrote back in the 80’s, could fit together with an American band that really couldn’t sound more like an American band (in a good way).

But it only took a few notes of Johnny’s jangling guitar sound on Monday night for the answer to become evident. There is more than a little bit of chemistry between these guys, and Johnny’s guitar sound is a perfect fit with Modest Mouse aggressive but emotional songwriting - something that became more and more apparent as the night unfolded.

Hopefully he sticks around long enough to record another album or two with them, but we’ll see. Oh, and I do happen to agree with Isaac Brock - Bukowski is indeed a pretty good read.

front and almost center: Johnny Marr (left) and Isaac Brock (right) and the rest of Modest Mouse in Copenhagen - Monday, July 2, 2007.

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