Over the years, Mogwai have earned a reputation as one of the loudest live bands in the business, one whose music is truly brought to life in a live setting. The atmosphere at their shows can be awe-inspiring but it's difficult to transfer such an intangible thing onto tape, particularly when the sound quality is so sharp and the crowd so well behaved that you sometimes forget you're listening to a live album at all.
Recorded over three dates in Brooklyn in April '09, the playlist is first-class, featuring some of Mogwai's finest piece's to date. Admittedly it's somewhat safe, lacking much of their distortion-raddled noise marathons, but it will make a fine introduction for those unfamiliar with the Glaswegians' music. The quiet piano intro of The Hawk Is Howling's 'I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead' makes a perfect opener, while the sullen tone of Rock Action's 'You Don't Know Jesus', with its competing guitars swathed in static distortion, is typical Mogwai.
Nearly twelve minutes of 'Mogwai Fear Satan' provides one of the few glimpses of the band's angrier, more experimental days, while nine minutes of '2 Rights Make 1 Wrong' has a more soothing, calmative effect. Mogwai's music often holds its value in slow, creeping build-ups and colossal crashing climaxes, but while live recordings can often be criticised for dragging out songs, these lengthy performances are actually shorter than their studio counterparts.
As with most live albums, Special Moves is hardly an essential purchase, but as a career spanning compilation from one of the most important bands in the history of post-rock, it's certainly worth a listen.