by Tristan Rayner in New Music on Monday 12 August 2013

The Icelandic indie folk band that have captured the hearts of Australia had originally set out to rock the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney after they had played at Splendour In The Grass in Byron Bay. How things change!

With headliner Frank Ocean coming down with a vocal cord tear (ow), Of Monsters and Men were suddenly elevated to becoming the headliners for the festival. Not that it’s gone to their heads!

Originally, the band had booked the Oxford Art Factory with just one small intimate show.

Perhaps it’s a sign of how sweet they are – thinking that their hit ‘Little Talks’ (which came in at number two on the 2013 Hottest 100) wouldn’t draw many people.

Of course they sold out, and had to move to the Enmore Theatre. And of course they organised some additional days for their fans which sold out instantly and of course they again had to to move their third performance again to the Enmore!

Australia loves Iceland, it would seem, and OMAM won’t underestimate their own popularity again such were the howls of delight as they took the stage.

The crowd, who were warmed up by Mammals, was a good mix of girls and guys, friends, couples, and a few oldies. The mosh pit was bopping along tamely and the crowd got involved with the bigger hits of Little Talks and Mountain Sound.

The music is so happy, cheerful and fey that you don’t notice some of strange joining of words to make ‘lyrics’ (hey, they’re doing pretty well for a second language), and the sameness that a lot of the songs seem to have (that’s indie folk for you – and they’ve only got one CD).

Walking away from the show, the crowds were happy and chatty. The merchandise tent was doing a great trade and smiles were had. It’s a warming experience and was near perfect for what was promised.

The only thing that Lost At E Minor wouldn’t stand for was a certain character in the band we like to call Uncle Distortion. Perhaps that’s a little unkind, he didn’t look that old. Let’s call him Cousin Distortion.

As you can see in the photos below, Cousin Distortion plays the electric guitar, adding sort of ethereal background noise to a number of the songs. This works some of the time.

But someone got something wrong – the sound engineer, most likely. Might as well blame the roadies. But Cousin Distortion, when unleashed, quite unfortunately drowned out the vocals from Nanna and Raggi.

It was a shame – a loud shame – and ruined quite a lot of the cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Skeletons but as luck would have it, he wasn’t too prominent for most of the night. Poor chap.

But Of Monsters And Men delivered a great set – which even at this early stage of their touring life was seamless and with enough audience interaction to make your heart melt for Nanna just a little.

The good news is that they’ll almost certainly be even better in time – as more albums are released and their live shows play more big hits.

The question is, will you get to see them in an intimate venue if you wait? They could just be filling stadiums, given their broad appeal.

Setlist:

Dirty Paws
From Finner
Slow and Steady
Mountain Sound
Your Bones
Love Love Love
King and Lionheart
Beneath My Bed
Lakehouse
Little Talks
Six Weeks

Encore:
Skeletons (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover)
Yellow Light