Throughout my time of attending gigs, I have witnessed some truly remarkable bands and events. I remember once seeing Nine Inch Nails at Brixton Academy, and it being truly the most epic performance, a night which changed my outlook on live shows completely.
I saw Korn on their very first tour of the UK, playing at the long-gone Astoria, a tiny venue by today’s standards, and it was brutal. Since then, I’ve seen everyone, from Metallica to Pearl Jam, and everyone else in between, and along the way, there have only been a couple of times where the event has not only exceeded my expectations but went on to completely blow me away.
Mostly, you know what you will be getting, long before you are buying those tickets, and are attending those venues. On one occasion recently, I got to witness Jack White perform, and while Mr White isn’t the usual Shaman fodder, he literally blew my mind with how enthralling he is to see perform live.
So, like the whiley bugger I am when it comes to attending gigs, when the opportunity came up to see Mono perform live, I took advantage of the situation, and signed myself up. I was in no way prepared, or ready for the world Mono were about to awaken within my mind’s eye. Tonight’s show was at the world-renowned Electric Ballroom, in London, and for me, this was a first for both the band, and the venue, so I got there early.
Unfortunately, main support, GGGOLDDD, had to pull out earlier on in the week, due to a health issue, and so second support, the always visceral Svalbard, stepped up, and extended their opening set, ahead of headliners Mono coming to grace the stage.
Being early meant getting a great vantage point to witness both bands in action, so when Svalbard took to the stage, I captured a true picture of the four-piece doing what they do best, which is laying to waste the environment, and leaving as a tough act to follow indeed. Svalbard were quick to stamp their mark on the place, and with each track, the vitriol emitting from the stage grew wilder and wilder.
Covering tracks from each recorded release, the band played a blistering set, and getting to hear tracks from the most recent release, When I Die, Will I Get Better?, live, was incredible. Having reviewed their latest album for The Sleeping Shaman, I was keen to see how these would feel in a live setting, and I wasn’t let down. At times downright ferocious, the band more than excelled, and by the end of their set, the whole room was on fire.
with each track, the vitriol emitting from the stage grew wilder and wilder…
After a brief intermission, Mono took to the stage. You could feel the anticipation, and as the opening bars rolled out, the room fell silent. Over the course of the next hour and a half, the majesty of the band completely overwhelmed my senses, and by the end, I found myself thinking about how it had been one of the most outstanding performances I had ever witnessed.
Now, for those of you who have seen Mono, I’m sure you will agree, that the band don’t just run through the tracks, and what you actually get is the revelation of the music being reimagined, and somewhat recreated again, in front of your eyes. Mono don’t just copy and repeat, they evolve and adapt, creating something beautiful and new with each moment.
Tracks I already knew, and recognised were reborn to me, and as I closed my eyes to fully embrace the sound, the feeling was euphoric. A completely immersive experience, to feel the love coming from the stage for each and every note, is truly magical. To watch the band too, who even with the minimum of movement at times, make such an unparalleled wall of wonderous sound, is completely captivating.
A completely immersive experience…
Seeing the works come to life in a live setting, even now, a few days on, has left me absolutely dumbstruck with how I’m feeling. The whole sonic experience was magnificent, and considering my many, many years of gig going, I can say, without any hesitation, that tonight Mono truly blew me away.
And it isn’t just about me, the whole audience were captivated, hanging off each and every note. The band too, completely immersed in their art, the equivalent of watching a painter paint, laying down the brush strokes, focused, controlled, yet every moment a flourish of pure beauty.
Even without uttering a single word, the band spoke to the audience, and by the time the house lights came up, the shear disbelief that it was all over was obvious. Captivating isn’t a strong enough word, ‘all consuming’ makes for a better context. Unequalled in musicianship, Mono aren’t merely a band, they are an actual feeling, a euphoria that can’t easily be described.
Mono aren’t merely a band, they are an actual feeling, a euphoria that can’t easily be described…
Coming away from the experience, I can say, with hand on heart, that this has truly been a defining moment in my own personal journey with seeing live performances. I am truly humbled to have been witness to, and in the same room, as such unique and talented artists.
Worth the wait, the anticipation, and every single second of the experience, to say I am forever changed by Mono is a fair assumption. Truly wonderous, absolutely enthralling, and a joy to behold, Mono really are the very essence of exactly what I’ve always looked for. Something which not only parallels a recording, but goes on, recreates, and evolves it into something completely new. Joyous, simply joyous.