Of Monsters & Men - Shepherds Bush Empire
Live Review

Of Monsters & Men – Shepherds Bush Empire, London

As a distorted operatic tenor voice boomed over the sound system, building in volume and dramatic tension, Of Monster And Men took to the stage and opened with ‘Dirty Paws’; a melodic track filled with their trademark ‘la la la’ refrains, big instrumental breaks and plenty of emphatic HEY’s thrown in. The Icelandic group, who are currently in the middle of their sold out European tour, have such an eclectic presence on stage and each have their own character and unique sense of style – special mention to the drummer Arnar, who was rocking an all in one fringe suit! The talented group of musicians and singers played a wide variety of instruments between them, including two pianos, a trumpet, an accordion, two guitars, an electric & bass guitar, drums, a melodica and various percussion. There’s no doubt about it, Of Monsters and Men are bursting with talent and energy.

Second track in and already there’s a sea of waving hands. Never were the lyrics of ‘From Finner’ more appropriate for the group: ‘And we are far from home but we’re so happy’. After leading a series of hand claps in ‘Slow and Steady’, Raggi amused the crowd with his operatic vocals, before launching into ‘Mountain Sound’, where the audience joined in the ‘call and reply’ style refrain: ”Hold your horses now (Sleep until the sun goes down”). The stage lighting was extremely effective throughout the set, beat matching in perfect sync. Songs such as ‘King and Lion Heart’ , ‘Your Bones’ and ‘Six Weeks’ went down a storm live, with their repetitive hooks and anthemic feel-good chorus. The stage lights aptly changed to a hazy red while Nanna’s stripped back vocals serenaded the crowd with ‘Love Love Love’, accompanied by an accordion, sleigh bells and even a glockenspiel.

Of Monsters and Men have a unique ability in creating pure moments of stillness that gradually build to a soaring chorus, as heard in ‘Lakehouse’ and ‘Yellow’. Of course, this was further amplified by a surprise confetti canon explosion. Only one song could follow and that was the song that started it all; ‘Little Talk’ – a track bursting with energy and feel good vibes while the crowd erupted in a series of emphatic HEY’s. The band’s reappearance for the encore was met with an electric response as Raggi and Nanna performed the acoustic ballad ‘Sloom’. ‘Yellow Light’ brought the house down with its resounding kettle drum beats, repetitive piano hooks and melodic refrain, concluding with an epic explosion of sounds.

Of Monsters and Men’s skills lie in their clever song writing ability and skilful musicianship. They’ve managed to make folk music more accessible and exciting, attracting quite a diverse audience. The repetitive chorus and trademark HEY’s are extremely effective and actively engage their listeners. After the success of 2011’s ‘My Head Is An Animal’, here’s to the next album!

Venue: Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Support Band: Mugison

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