This Of Monsters and Men article was written by David Pittaway, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Gavin Wells
Support bands are a strange beast. They’re the back-up quarterbacks of the music world. You need one, but no one ever really pays much attention to them. They might be decent players, have broken records in college, been drafted high and gone to a good team; but they’re not who you’re there to see play. It’s hard to get excited about seeing Jimmy Garoppolo play, when you have Tom Brady with his four Super Bowl rings and supermodel wife in the squad.
But the backup is a critical position; no one ever expects anything out of them but everyone notices when they do well. In supporting Of Monster and Men, Norwegian outfit Highasakite were a pretty perfect backup. No one in the West Midlands area knew who they were, and if they say they did then they’re lying. Highasakite produced drowsy, wistful melodies that are more Nordic than meatballs at Ikea, and caused even the coldest, hardest Midlander to sway ever so gently.
With a front woman who is what Kate Bush would have been had she grown up in a Norwegian port; all arm pirouettes and vocals you don’t hear clearly but grasp the meaning instantly, a light show that stings the retinas and a drummer who works twice as a hard as every other member in the band; Highasakite make music that hits you in that wobbly part of stomach that sits somewhere behind the tummy and just in front of the spine.
And then the band everyone had paid to see turned up. Decked out in all black with their enormous silhouettes being played out onto the side walls, it had the feel of an Ingmar Bergman film. You half expected them to begin playing chess with Death and start discussing Kierkegaard. It was moodier, sulkier music than the crowd might have been expecting; the sort that could only be created in a land where it’s dark half the year and the people believe in trolls.
A brooding, elvish, female vocalist with a hairstyle that every girl in the room is going to try and recreate this week swirled around the stage like she was scattering pixie dust, and a drummer that is far too good looking to be wasted all way in the back – he should be front and centre so the audience can sculpt him. Of Monsters and Men were building towards something.
Solemn, sincere and with just enough of the hits sprinkled throughout to keep the punters happy; the stadium folk was beginning to show. The lights exploded, more trumpets sounded than at Jericho and you realised just how many bonafide hits this band had on their first album. The Nordic noir had been lifted and the gig was now in technicolour.
The crowd knew all the words, but there’s just something wonderfully breathy about the female Scandinavian vocal chords, like they’ve been dipped in liquid nitrogen and are quickly shattering. A voice like falling icicles.
Then they were done and that sleepy happiness that only folky music can create fell over the room ,and the tall brunette who didn’t know anything about them prior to the evening was won over, by both starter and backup. And that just about says it all really.