They did Iceland proud, and Steinbeck too

September 21st, 2012

This article is more than 12 years old.

***** (5 stars out of 6); September 19 at Store Vega

When I turned up at the Of Monsters and Men concert at Store Vega on Wednesday night, I must admit that my expectations were rather high. The chamber pop sextet have been hogging blog space lately, spurred by, among other things, their recently dropped album My Head is an Animal. If their performance is anything to go by, this is a band with huge potential, and an amazing live act at that. We’re talking about a band that sounds strangely similar to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, fused with Mumford & Sons, and a tinge of Arcade Fire – just to complicate things.

Fellow Icelander Lay Low was at hand to provide a wonderful warm-up, playing a dexterous blend of powerful songs, intermeshed with snippets of witty humour. The performance was proof enough of why she’s had the honour of touring with the likes of Emiliana Torrini.

Of Monsters and Men then stepped onto the stage illuminated by a fiery red glow and proceeded to sweep Store Vega off its feet. Lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir seemed thrilled with the soaring number of Icelanders at Vega and engaged them in her native tongue before unleashing tracks such as the up-tempo, jovial ‘Mountain song’.  An unexpected cover of ‘Skeletons’ by trendy New York garage rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs thereafter added a fresh wave of variation to the concert, while sing-along gems such as ‘From Finner’ got the crowd jumping.

Unsurprisingly, the highlight of the show came when the anthemic ‘Little Talks’ dropped towards the end. The song epitomises the chamber pop sound that the band has managed to cultivate over its short but sparkling career, and featured a brief, but perfectly timed trumpet solo that accentuated its jolly effect.

Led by the vocals of the subliminal Ragnar Pórhallsson and Hilarsdottir, Of Monsters and Men were sharp from the word go, playing with ear-to-ear grins and bonding with the crowd, despite the customary unresponsiveness of Danish audiences. Nowhere was this bond more candid than at the very end of the show, as the Icelanders parted from the stage, with the dreamy, contemplative chimes and ticks of  the final track ‘Yellow Light’ ringing in the audience’s ears, who by this point, were in merry spirits.


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