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Mona - Rough Trade East - 30th September 2010 (Live Review)

Tuesday, 05 October 2010 Written by James Conlon
Mona - Rought Trade East - 30th September 2010 (Live Review)

Without meaning to start things off on in the melodramatic, I have a confession to make: I am not seen to be scene. I canít pull off skinny jeans, I wear tops which at least try to cover my torso and Iíve never had a barcode tattooed on my arm. Itís never really been a problem, in all honesty. However, stepping into Rough Trade record shop in Shoreditch (a veritable Mecca for music lovers), Iím suddenly greeted with looks that show Iím clearly not trying hard enough. Fear not, I have learned my lesson: Iíve emptied out Topman in Kingston, and as soon as I find the right Camus quote Iím getting a tattoo yeah, Iím getting ink done.

It seems like a strange choice of venue for a band which are so stubbornly anti-progressive, but Mona look like theyíre a part of the furniture as they stand by the entrance welcoming fans and chatting away like normal, regular people with arms and toenails and all that. However, vocalist Nick Brown gives the game away, leaning on a counter in a pair of Ray-bans looking far too cool for his own good. This isnít a man who worries about rent and gas bills: heís not really one of us after all, oh no. Brown has declared himself a rock god in the making and thereís nothing that anyone can do or say to stop him.

The band eventually take to the makeshift stage in a subdued fashion, and there is an understandable sense of apprehension in the collected crowd: Mona have only ever previewed three songs online, and this is their second ever performance in England. However, as they launch into the opening bars of an unreleased song, the sense of worry is cast away as a false alarm. There is an incredible power from the four piece, and despite the fact that the majority of the room havenít heard the song before, there is a positive response throughout. Vocalist Nick Brown is certainly attempting to live up to his own hype, roaring out the chorus line (ďKeep on running, just keep on runningĒ) with his every fibre of his being.

The band plough through the set, shying away from interaction with the crowd and simply letting the music speak for itself. They are undeniably a tight act, and their intent comes across in the performance: Mona are a band who are definitely best served live. The first identifiable number of the night, ĎLines in the Sandí, is treated with a loud applause for good reason. A pounding bassline provides the perfect backing for Brown (still supporting the Stevie Wonder look), who roars like his life depends on it. This is followed by the bands recent release, íListen to Your Loveí: a stadium-ready rock anthem which fuses sliding guitar riffs with squealing strokes to form an impressive debut. There are moments when the band seem shaken, especially as guitarist Jordan Young blurs the line between controlled chaos and unintentional feedback, but the enthusiasm for their craft is undeniable.

As vocalist Nick Brown (rumoured to be after the role of Cyclops in the next X-men film) announces the next song will be the bandís last, it is clear that he has personally made quite an impression on the room. Lyrically, there are moments of vacancy, and the final song of the evening (another unreleased track) teeters into the avenues of misogyny, proving that the band are clearly committed wholeheartedly to their retro ideologies: ďBoy I like the way she looks, / Hope she cleans and hope she cooksĒ.

Hype can be a lethal thing for up-and-coming bands, but the comparisons between Mona and Kings of Leon are not entirely contrived. Mona are no doubt a talented act, well versed in the art of rock songwriting and eager to make a deep impression on the music scene. My only real concern is the possibility that they will fall into the hole that so many other Ďbuzzí bands do, letting the hype get the better of them. Letís hope that Nick Brown doesnít wander onto the path of Anthony Followill (lead singer of Kings of Leon), falling in love with his own voice to the stage where he releases an LP consisting entirely of humming, groans and the sound of him clearing his own throat.

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