Of Monsters and Men, Roskilde Festival Arena July 2013

Of Monsters and Men **** (4 stars out of 6), July 5 at Arena
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It wasn’t how they looked, it was the way they held the crowd

When Icelandic chamber pop maestros Of Monsters and Men performed on Danish soil for the first time last September at Store Vega, there were not that many people who had heard of the band and fewer still who defined themselves as fans.

Fast forward a few months. Roskilde Festival is kicking into gear on its second day and the event is alive and awash with a cheery vibe to suit all tastes. Of Monsters and Men are the third act of the day to perform on the Arena stage and the first to open the evening’s merry making.

The Icelandic quintet opened proceedings with the sun high in the sky, playing a set that consisted predominantly of songs off their 2012 debut album My Head is An Animal. Rather surprisingly they opted to unleash one of their marquee tracks ‘From Finner’ very early into the show, which was initially not that well received but by the end of it all had become an essentially catalytic element that set the tone for what would be a memorable evening.  In similar vain to ‘From Finner’, it took time for Of Monsters and Men to well and truly woo the crowd, but once they did, they had the concert in the palm of their hands, playing with a musical mastery that complemented the uniqueness of their folk-influenced music. Similarly, as was the case with last night’s final show at Arena by American psychedelic trio Animal Collective, poor acoustics at the start of the show tainted things somewhat, as lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir seemed to struggle to make her potent vocals heard.

The acoustics did improve however, and with the crowd enjoying themselves as much as they were, Of Monsters and Men went all in and unleashed their signature track ‘Little Talks’ at the peak of the proceedings, much to the delight of the partisan crowd who danced and shouted with approval. This and ‘Mountain Sound‘, another banger off the same debut album, underscored Of Monsters and Men at their best, an act who took up the baton from chamber pop pioneers Edwarde Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and popularised a genre of music that may well become a familiar fixture on the global music stage.

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