Thursday, 28 February 2013

Little talk of monsters

At ten past nine on Friday night Of Monsters and Men took to the stage, emerging from the dark shadows behind the instruments like creeping, dark woodland creatures from one of their own songs. After some uncertainty about what to expect on the night, our first night out childless after the birth of Sophie, we stood transfixed in the packed O2 Academy for the duration of the following hour and a half, bewitched by the Icelandic act’s music. The bands two lead singers Ragnar Pórhallsson and Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir held us and the rest of the crowd’s attention easily with their beautiful, soulful voices which accompanied the other five musicians on stage before the packed old cinema house. Of Monsters and Men are probably classed as something along the lines of indie folk rock but have a very distinctive sound. An earthy, melodic, exciting noise that rears from quiet ballad to epic drums, Of Monsters and Men's music is a mix of Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons and, fellow Icelandic band, Sigur Ros. Merely comparing them to other bands however probably doesn’t do them justice and could possibly act as a distraction to anyone considering listening to them.
Whilst running on the treadmill one day last year I happened to notice the fantastic video for their first single “Little talks” on the gym’s tv screens and I’ve been enjoying the band’s music since. The animated music video tells the story of five sky sailors (the five blokes in the band) discovering a meteor and a mythical female creature, played by female lead singer, Nanna. The rest of the video follows the sailors as they decide to try and help the female creature get home and back to her people depicting the story of them on their dangerous, treacherous journey.
The animated video itself reminded me of the kind of artwork created by the likes of Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman, the basic, child like depictions of the moving figures reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s own illustrations for his Middle Earth books.
The video was actually created and produced by design team We Were Monkeys, Mihai Wilson and Marcella Moser, and since the single “Little Talks” the same team have went on to create another video for the band's next single, “King and Lionheart”.
After downloading their first album “My Head is an Animal” last November, Ka bought us tickets after hearing of their live tour hitting Glasgow in February not quite comprehending the feelings of uncertainty and guilt we’d be feeling at having to leave a 13 week old baby behind when the night of the gig actually came around.
so we travelled into Glasgow on Friday night leaving the sleeping Sophie in the care of my Mum and Dad. Lynsey Ann had also invited herself round and was going to join Mum and Dad for dinner, a large fish supper bought from Emanuels around the corner, whilst Sophie's mild snoring buzzed out from the small baby monitor at the end of the couch. So, after giving Sophie one final check, as she lay sound asleep in the moses basket, we bid Mum and Dad farewell and jumped in the car to head for Gardenhall.
Ka and myself were not the only ones going to the gig. Pauline and her mate from work, Dawn, had also purchased tickets for the same concert at some point at the end of last year and I offered my services as taxi driver. Ka and myself left the house on time, and drove round to Pauline's house to pick the two work colleagues up only to find the two of them supping beers and just beginning the process of putting their dinner out. Sitting patiently with our jackets on Ka and myself watched the two of them eat, not making them feel rushed at all, whilst Pauline repeatedly told us how she loved us, before the four of us finally headed into town. Unfortunately we missed the support act and when we left the square bar nearest the large hall’s entrance after purchasing our first drink we only then realised how busy the place was.
It wasn’t just busy, it was mobbed busy. I hadn’t expected such a strong crowd for the folkie band from Iceland and had obviously completely underestimated their popularity. It didn’t stop us fighting our way down through the hall to the front of the main standing area within only a few metres from the front of the stage. It was a great gig with the band’s two singers, Pórhallsson and Hilmarsdóttir, on top form with their acoustic guitars and their vocals, working perfectly together, bouncing off one another just as they mirrored one another, standing at the front of the stage, under the lights and in the dry ice, left and right, male and female, left handed and right handed whilst the other guitarists worked around them, the trumpets and pianos played to their right and the tall, bearded drummer with the big, whacky hair yelled at the crowd from behind his kit on their left.
After giving Dawn a quick lift to the bus station to await her journey home, and getting Pauline back to Gardenhall, Ka and myself rushed home around half past eleven to find Mum, Dad and Lynsey Ann chilling out before our television. They’d spent the evening watching the Coen Brothers’ patter filled classic The Big Labowski for the first time. After taking off our jackets Ka and myself individually checked Sophie who I don’t think had moved since we’d left four hours earlier. Our wee baby girl remained sound asleep in the moses basket, proving that we could in fact, contrary to paranoid feelings of guilt, leave our sleeping baby safely in someone else’s care for an evening. This proven fact will hopefully come in handy in the years to come, though we probably will need a little more practice at it.

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