Of Monsters and Men at The Forum
For an island country of little over 300,000 residents, Iceland has created more than its fair share of epic music. Keflavik’s Of Monsters and Men continue this tradition, blending lush “wall of sound” arrangements along the lines Sigur Rós, with an accessible pop sensibility of which Björk would be proud. Crowding the stage at North London’s The Forum with a touring roster featuring no fewer than 11 members, they appear to be part band, part sonic army, taking aim at a sell-out crowd with a dizzying variety of instruments. Fittingly, from the first strains of opening ballad Thousand Eyes, they hit the willing thousands right between theirs.
Sharing lead vocal and guitar duties, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson front the assault with an infectious line in yearningly lovelorn lyrics delivered in charmingly clipped accents. Early on, when Þórhallsson instructs the assembled masses to clap along, they obediently do so even before they recognise jig-along favourite Slow and Steady. The clapping ceases only to facilitate the dancing as a crescendo of brass and drums (with half the band contributing some form of percussion) ends the song to rapturous applause.
To assist in the creation of a grand atmosphere tonight, an impressive light show features narrow arrays of phasing LEDs arranged into the band’s repeated M motif, which bathe the crowd in every colour of the spectrum and cast enormous shadows onto the opulently gilded walls of the auditorium.
If there is to be one criticism, it’s that – considering the range of instruments on display – there is scant variety to the way songs are structured. With little in the way of distinct hooks, tunes are almost uniformly built upon a frenetically strummed acoustic guitar rhythm and vocals building to a chorus of euphoric “ooh-aah” harmonies. It’s a formula that undeniably works though (just ask Mumford and Sons), and the appreciative audience remain palpably captivated as this archetype is followed through hit singles such as King and Lionheart and Little Talks, the radio-friendly earworm that first brought Of Monsters and Men to wide public attention.
After they leave the stage echoing to the beat of another tribal drum-fest in Six Weeks, the band’s return is emphatically demanded. There follows an encore that underlines the crowd’s devotion, as Silhouettes (internationally renowned thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack of The Hunger Games) is greeted with no more enthusiasm and no more voices raised in support than We Sink – taken from Beneath the Skin, their second album released just one week ago.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information about Of Monsters and Men and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Slow and Steady here: