Mona at The Wardrobe – Live Review

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By Jack

It’s a muggy night in Leeds when Mona take to the stage with a guttural roar of guitar feedback. October Drift got the crowd warmed up with some grungy strumming. If Mona’s album work suggests an intensity in their sound, then that power comes to the fore in performance. Over a generous setlist, the band give it their all: their heart and their sweat. But mostly their sweat.

Unfortunately this ferocity does mean that some of the quirks of production which made their latest EP so interesting are lost along the way. But that saps none of their power, and when latest single ‘In The Middle’ gets an early run-out it still pops.

It isn’t surprising that the band delve deeply into their debut album, which remains their most popular work. ‘Listen to Your Love’ and ‘Teenager’ work perfectly in this environment: garage rock at it’s best, or wardrobe rock as the case may be tonight. A beefed-up version of the Springsteenesque album track ‘Pavement’ comes as a nice surprise.

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You’d think that a song as ferocious as ‘Shooting the Moon’ would get the velvet-rope treatment, but to my surprise we get it pre-encore. It’s their biggest track in terms of sheer visceral thrill. It’s the only song that really cries out for a larger staging. Frontman Nick Brown gets it though, and compensates appropriately by clambering along the guardrails.

‘Say You Will’ gets the final billing and it is a fitting way to cap things off. It’s a more uplifting way to end things than say, a song about vicious, hateful caterwauling (‘Shooting the Moon’).

There’s no denying Mona deserve to be heard by more than what The Wardrobe can muster, but you couldn’t tell them: they seem to be absolutely loving it. Indeed it’s what makes their performance work. Hammering your instruments isn’t any fun without some heart, and Mona have that in spades. It can’t be too long until Mona swing back this way, possibly with a new album in tow. We’ll certainly be game for round two.

Read our interview with Nick here.

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