So, you travel 4000 miles to perform to 300 people. Insane? Maybe. Enjoyable? Hell yes! Thankfully this evening I was one of the lucky 300 to witness this sublime lesson in rock and roll, and a set ‘up there’ with the best I’ve seen in 2013. The depressing thoughts of watching Bastille, knowing another 5 pints wouldn’t have helped, are now all but a distant and fading memory.
MONA are on quite a hard hitting US tour to promote their second album “Torches & Pitchforks”. So, why they would suddendly take a detour across the pond is anyone’s guess. I checked and then re-checked the Reading and Leeds line-ups … nope .. they’re not there. I checked and then double checked fairs, ‘bring and buy sales’ and even garden parties up and down the UK … nope … not there either. As a ticket holding customer the logistics didn’t concern me as i was more concerned with the content … and that was very, very good.
A set made up of mainly second album material could have been a little hit and miss. However, these guys know what they’re about. While their apparent musical doubles (not my comparison but that of lazy journalists) Kings Of Leon continue to make music to please their record company rather than themselves, MONA make and play music for their own entertainment. And this is powerful stuff deserving of a much grander stage. The band play this Borderline set in front of a velvet red curtain separating them from the backstage shinaigans while being no more than 2 feet away from the nearest (and bravest) fan. It’s for all intent and purposes a pub gig. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way but I came away from the venue feeling i’d taken a sneaky look into the workings of a possible super group, in a very ‘up close and personal’ venue.
From the selection of tracks performed from “Torches & Pitchforks” it was “Goons” that stood above its rivals. The crowd continued to chant the chorus long after the song had finished. For me it’s a drinking song deep down (MONA state that the song is really about the correlation between juvenile delinquency and rock and roll music) but in the UK it certainly lends itself as a quite unique drinking anthem.
There were dips back into the bands debut album. It was one of these tracks that provided the absolute stand out moment of the evening, “Lean into the Fall”. It was the crowd favourite and took the set to another level. It was also a very sharp reminder as to how good the first self titled album really is.
While MONA are now two albums in it feels as though they have literally just started their journey, and on this evidence will probably fill stadium the world over. It’s feel good music that demands foot tapping and boisterous pogoing. The band have a series of US dates to complete but i would hope that a full promotion tour in Europe would follow this in 2014.
On a personal note it was fantastic to see that “Pavement” was as much a favourite to others as it is to me. It was certainly the feel-good track of the evening. The young lady who had stood next to me most of the evening had, within seconds, appeared at the front of the stage, hoisted onto a friends shoulders and was punching the air. Two minutes and fifty nine seconds later she had returned to the relative shelter of the back wall.
One last thing to mention. While Nick Brown seems to have the most limited wardrobe on this planet he seemingly also has the best voice in rock and roll.
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