Monsters of Folk

Artist: Monsters of Folk
Date: 17 November
Venue: London Troxy
Rating: ****

Expectations ran high before Monsters of Folk took to the stage in London. But, by the time the first song ‘Say Please’ had finished, it was obvious they weren’t going to disappoint. Comprising of M. Ward, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, both of Bright Eyes fame, the band is an impressive collaboration project of musicians who could all easily perform a headlining UK tour in their own right.

The set was truly epic. Lasting over two and a half hours, the depth and range of the music was exceptional. The band wove together songs from their recently issued album (also called Monsters of Folk) alongside a striking range of material from their respective backlists.

Songs the band had written together were more polished than their cover versions of older work. ‘Dear God (Yours Sincerely, M.O.F.)’, ‘Man Named Truth’ and the final song, ‘His Master’s Voice’, stood out as particularly good. But their selection of Bright Eyes covers was also well received. The haunting vocals of M. Ward and Jim James contrasted Conor Oberst’s deeper, grittier tones, adding a new dimension to the previously familiar songs.

Audience interaction was minimal, limited to a few brief introductions to members of the band and the occasional mumbling of “Muchos gracias”. With a less impressive performance, this would have been a real sore point of the night. As it was, it seemed insignificant that they barely spoke, the music doing all the talking.

The show ended with real energy and exuberance. Oberst jumped around the stage during the encore and mounted the drum kit before letting the piano roll off the side of the stage – the finishing touch to a compelling night. And if Monsters of Folk return to the UK, I’ll be first in line to see them again.

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