Of Monsters and Men at Somerset House Summer Series
The swelling of opera music sounds out and the lights dim on the stage as another Summer Series concert begins at Somerset House. The white screen in front of the stage reveals the undulating shadows of Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men as they launch into Dirty Paws from their hit album My Head Is an Animal. Of course, as the song takes flight, the screen drops to a roar of appreciation, revealing huge orbs of light and an enormous array of instruments. It’s a formulaic but impressive entrance for the band.
The crowd is a wonderful mix of people that shows the broad appeal of the band. In a soundscape somewhere between Mumford and Sons and Arcade Fire, Of Monsters and Men craft songs, no anthems of indie pop-folk. Their two lead singers, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson, carry the show with sweet girl/boy vocals, telling tales of forests, animals and love. There are big drum-claps, a horn section and an accordion to reproduce the collection of sounds from their debut record.
Whether it is because they have been touring non-stop – this is the last show before a short break – or the sound quality, they start sounding tired, not matching the liveliness of their reputation. The epic Mountain Sound doesn’t take off as much as it should and the vocals are often dampened. Yet the voices warm up throughout and this blip almost doesn’t matter when the songs are so terrific, or when you let off a glitter cannon!
Onstage banter is charming and honest, at one point Nanna and Raggi are bemused as to why it’s so hot in London but freezing in Portugal where they last played. These moments are frank and the band proves they are loveable.
Everyone in the audience seems to be here for one song and one song only, the stomping single Little Talks. It’s a stroke of genius and the crowd go wild for it, but many leave straight after which is a shame, Of Monsters and Men are certainly not a one-hit wonder.
Coming in at just over an hour, including the encore, their set is short and sweet. Of Monsters and Men didn’t quite nail it tonight, but showed glimpses of brilliance. When you close the set by raining fake snow down over the first few rows during Yellow Light, you know you’re onto a winner.
Photos: Dimitris Amvrazis
For further information and future events visit Of Monsters and Men’s website here.
Watch the video for Little Talks here: