Of Monsters and Men @ The Forum (with Vallis Alps) – 21 Jul ’15

OMAM

Two days after seeing Ryan Adams and another visit to the Forum was in order, continuing the indulgence in festival sideshows courtesy of Splendour in the Grass to see Of Monsters and Men.

It’s not often that a venue is nearing capacity for a support act, but this seemed to be one of those odd occasions where an unusually large number of people decided to get down early. They were in luck, with the promise of ‘special guests’ being Vallis Alps delivering ethereal pop with loads of synth and soaring vocals. A Bon Iver cover was thrown in amongst some original material, saving Young until last.

As good as the Vallis Alps pair were, there were no match for the unfathomable presence of the numbers that made up Of Monsters and Men. Blanketed in darkness, seeing little more than silhouettes on stage with the shadowy sounds of Thousand Eyes slowly building in intensity to thundering rhythms, before lightening the mood a little in Human and starting to share lead vocals between Nanna and Ragnar, blending clear sweet sounds with raspier tones.

With the new album, it was pretty obvious that a lot of the lightness and quirkier sounds had evolved into something with more depth and maturity, but all still intertwined with Nordic charm in sound and personality. Everything from the quaintness of introductions, the lengthy flights or even plugging the latest single was delivered with charm and garnered a few laughs.

And after being edged on a little from the band’s drummer, the crowd finally got into the swing of things by clapping along to a more familiar sound courtesy of King and Lionheart. The big sounds kept coming in the vibrant Empire and the marching drums appearing on occasion drew a few big cheers. But there were some subtle differences too, a few clever twists in Slow Life steered the sound into a more indie feel, with more space than the usual complex layers allow.

As appreciative and receptive as everyone was to the newer material, it was hard to dismiss the popularity and anticipation of the old, drawing in feel-good singalongs to Lakehouse and getting some feet moving on the floor while practically overtaking vocal duties for the last song, Little Talks.

It wasn’t really though, throwing in a few extra tunes, an impeccable horn solo in Silhouettes and reassuring comments that the 35 hours of travel was worthwhile before the real last song We Sink.

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