Of Monsters And Men

support Mammút
author MN date 31/10/15 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

What better way to inaugurate the month of November than to witness Of Monsters And Men perform on this gloomy all hallows eve. The streets are roamed by ghosts, ghouls and phantoms, and despite the befitting name of tonight’s premier act, what I came to witness was far from a horror show, but rather a theatrical and melancholic performance that was inspired by invigoration and soul searching. Of Monsters And Men are in town to promote their latest release, the brilliant Beneath The Skin which adds plenty more depth and variation to their otherwise brilliant repertoire. Therefore, as I venture into the sold-out venue tonight, it is with a sense of high expectation and suspense at what this great band has to offer. First up, however, is fellow countrymen, Mammút.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Mammút

Despite having existed for the better part of 10 years, Mammút has not been detected quite yet by international hype. Having won the Album Of The Year at the Icelandic Music Awards, Mammút have now received critical acclaim and thereby the merit to perform alongside Of Monsters And Men. I personally have not had the chance to listen thoroughly to their efforts, so I stand with a clean slate ready to witness. Mammút enter the stage quietly and pick up their instruments. Playing a blend of post-rock and alternative, Mammút clearly value crunch and a more cacophonic approach to an insistent melodic line. The band is fronted by a fierce lady by the name of Alexandra Baldursdóttir, an interesting persona that seems to blend influences of 90’s Gwen Stefani, Diamanda Galas and Björk. Her vocal abilities are commendable and are often sung in their native Icelandic, which makes for an interesting listen. The rest of the band play their part of course, where a noticeable and weight-carrying bassline is performed brilliantly by Ása Dýradóttir - especially during "Blood Burst", one of their most catchy tracks. Noise rock banger “Þau Svæfa” sees the quintet start to headbang around, and Mammút turn out a lot heavier than I initially expected. The set is finished off with the brilliant "Salt" which cements Mammúts relevancy in contemporary times.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Tungan
  • 2. Rivers End
  • 3. Blood Burst
  • 4. pau Svæfa
  • 5. Shore
  • 6. Glædur
  • 7. Salt

Of Monsters And Men

As the lights dim in the venue, the audience begins to howl and scream with vigour, and as all eyes are scouting the stage, the members from Of Monsters And Men start to take their positions. What is more surprising is the sheer amount of session musicians that enter as well. Tonight’s performance is a 9-piece including both a guitarist/percussionist and a brass section. One may begin to worry that the fame has heightened their ego and therefore insist on a megalomaniac approach to performance, yet this performance will tell if OMAM’s music suits such a grandiose setting. Opening with the unsettling "Thousand Eyes", Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir showcases her absolutely astounding vocal ability, both sharp and original, Nanna is one of the best vocalists in the game.

As one of my personal favourite tracks, "Empire" is performed where the dual vocal lines of Nanna and Ragnar start to form the basis. So far the sound is calibrated heavily with bombastic drums and percussive elements, especially during "Black Water", which unfortunately drowns the delicate vocals and therefore is indicative of this notion that "big is always better" is not always true. It is a shame seeing as its one of the best sing-a-long tracks on their new album. The classic "Mountain Sound” sees people begin to dance around the venue. As it is a Saturday night, the audience is merrily enjoying the music and their drinks, and as most people know, liquor lubrication is needed for Danes to loosen their stiff joints. "Human" recaptures a more melancholic and sombre mood again, where the delays and interplay between tonight’s three guitarists is intriguingly complex. "Slow Life" serves as one of the key highlights of the evening, where Nanna’s soaring vocals are complimented by a gritty distortion. The single "Crystals" is also greatly received, as is the omnipresent “Little Talks”, their absolute greatest hit.

It is actually quite amazing how many great songs are to be found across Of Monsters And Men’s humble two releases. As the night progresses, I find myself far from bored at all times. "Six Weeks" sees both drummer and percussionist perform in unison to great effect and seals the initial set. In the encore, we are treated to a trio of hits, including "Dirty Paws” and the phenomenal "We Sink” that closes the night with a blistering vocal performance of Nanna.

First time I saw Of Monsters And Men was at Roskilde Festival where they suffered from a lack of good sound production. This time around, they have readjusted the knobs and made sure that the vocals stay buoyant in the giant orchestration. Of Monsters And Men are a great live performance where the music really speaks for itself and the lack of interaction with the crowd is therefore forgivable. Totally satisfied with tonight’s performance and will definitely rush to sign up to witness them again.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Thousand Eyes
  • 2. Empire
  • 3. King And Lionheart
  • 4. Black Water
  • 5. Mountain Sound
  • 6. Slow Life
  • 7. Human
  • 8. I Of The Storm
  • 9. Backyard
  • 10. Crystals
  • 11. Hunger
  • 12. Wolves Without Teeth
  • 13. Lakehouse
  • 14. Little Talks
  • 15. Six Weeks

--Encore--

  • 16. Wake Up
  • 17. Organs
  • 18. Dirty Paws
  • 19. We Sink

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