Live Review: Mono @ Scala, London

Live Review: Mono
Venue: Scala, London
Date: 15/03/10

It would seem that Mono have grown quite attached to the Scala. Returning to the UK for another stint in support of last year’s Hymn to the Immortal Wind, the band appears settled amongst the smart surroundings of what used to be an old cinema that has had its own turbulent story. In a way, the history of the venue and Mono’s music is a perfect relationship, the Scala’s dramatic past seemingly the perfect fit to Mono’s cinematic music that leaves so much to the imagination.

Tonight’s show ends up more of a sermon however, with an audience that at times are in complete reverence of what they are witnessing. It’s no surprise; Mono almost seem to demand that the audience be left breathless, and without uttering a word themselves throughout the show they seem to encourage the patrons to (almost) do the same. There’s a lot to be said about the sheer magnitude of a band that can command that much respect from a cramped London audience.

It’s amazing how diminutive the band at first appear. With little more than your traditional rock outfit (two guitars, a bass, some drums, a keyboard and a massive gong) it almost seems unfathomable that songs like opener ‘Ashes In The Snow’ and ‘Yearning’ are made with such unexciting instrumentation.

But made they are, and what a beautiful noise. Despite some gremlins in the speakers causing what starts as a rather irritating hiss which slowly develops into an infuriating static scream invading the sound throughout Mono’s quieter elements, Mono are undeniably one hell of a force. Most of tonight’s set is taken from the latest release, but there is time given to all the bands other four releases. Despite this, the set remains cohesive throughout, suggesting that whilst Mono aren’t a band to ever reinvent themselves, they are extremely powerful at what they do.

What surprises early on is the relative calm that is exhibited onstage. Guitarists Yoda and Takaakira Goto spend the delicate moments sat on stools. But when the volume is upped, so is the performance, with Takaakira reeling on the Scala stage floor, hunched up as if the cacophony is almost too much for him to bear.

It’s testimony to this band that they can come all the way from Japan, play songs of up to ten minutes in length and not say a single word to the audience and still leave every audience member in a state of nirvana. As closer ‘Everlasting Light’ drained the last of the hearing out of everyone gathered here tonight, there was almost a collective shiver throughout the audience.

If there’s one thing tonight’s show lacked, it was the ability to sit down and truly let these majestic songs wash over you. I hate to say it, but I think I’m getting old. But Mono? Absolutely timeless.

Photos from the show are here.

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