Of Monsters and Men at Brixton Academy
Opening with a powerful rendition of Thousand Eyes, what’s instantly striking about Of Monsters and Men is a certain air of wholesomeness: a purity to their chords, a sincerity in their vocals and a devotion to their performance. Usually a quintet, the addition of four touring members ups their on-stage party to nine which, given the tribal, propulsive nature of their music renders their stage presence a genuine spectacle.
Embarking into King and Lionheart, Black Water and Mountain Sound, it’s their thundering but soulful drums, orchestral harmonies and fiery vocals that seem to capture their fans so well. Think Marcus Mumford, Yannis Phillipakis and Florence Welch perched atop a snow-dusted canyon, determinedly strumming out ballad after ballad, their silhouetted bodies illuminated only by the transcendent rays of the Northern Lights, and you’re somewhere close.
But for all their stylistic and atmospheric merits, they are too reliant on what seems a tiresome template to the majority of their songs. A rugged acoustic verse gradually cresting into a gospel-style chorus, aided by stirring spirituous vocals and the same tribal drums. It’s gripping for a while, but after three or four songs the spark begins to fade. They seem a band that discovered a recipe for success back in 2011 and have stuck to it rigidly; perhaps wary of betraying what is clearly a loyal and enthusiastic fan base.
Ultimately, Of Monsters and Men are strong performers backed by a solid, if slightly bland, portfolio. Hits such as Little Talks went down a treat, as did a rapturous encore performance of Dirty Paws; but to reach the top artistically they’re gasping for something different: an injection of creativity and the boldness to experiment. Without that, can they continue to churn out such similar sounding, formulaic material?
Photos: Guifré de Peray
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Watch the video for King and Lionheart here: