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Mono: Caught live at The Underworld (2006)


Review by Ann Lee

LISTENING to Mono is like experiencing the perfect romance.

There’s the delicate, breathlessly exquisite moments that dance around your heart and seduce you ever so gently. Then there’s the raw moments of passion that grab at you suddenly, twisting and turning your insides, so that you cling helplessly to the spectre of sanity shocked into submission by the extremes of emotion.

Mono hail from Japan and follow the post rock formula of quiet/loud, quiet/loud to masterly perfection.

The crowd at Camden’s Underworld [earlier this month, November] similarly follow this simple equation in showing their appreciation; a deathly reverential silence falling whenever the band play, followed by clamorous applause as the last note dies out.

Just as they are about to start their set, there’s fierce “shhh-ing” among the audience and from then on no one dares to utter a word or even move from their spot.

Writhing around on stage, two guitarists, one bassist and a drummer immerse themselves in densely textured, complicated melodies that they pull off with an attention to detail that is astounding.

Bowed down low over their instruments, hair flying over their faces, all four band members throw themselves physically into the music as they play tracks from albums You Are There and Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined.

The band pick at delicate harmonies from their guitars, building up layer upon layer until it expands into a dense swell of noise anchored by thundering feedback. Lost Snow and Halcyon (Beautiful Days) were particular highlights.

Even though each song resembles a classical composition there’s a primitive force which drives them along that is both powerful and overwhelming.

At the end, as the security guys ushered people away from the stage who were desperately hoping for an encore (there wasn’t), you can be sure that even though it ended suddenly, this is one romance that will linger on in memory.