Mona – Brixton Academy, London

Upcoming Nashville rockers open the London leg of XFM’s Winter Wonderland.

It’s easily an occasion that you’d forgive a band for being over-awed by: opening for not just Manic Street Preachers, but also Suede (despite the latter eventually only doing a three-song acoustic set) in the iconic surroundings of Brixton Academy. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to have such an effect on Nashville four-piece Mona and would probably end up being turned in a good story to tell the grandchildren, no matter how their career develops in the coming months. Brimming with energy and passion, they produced a tight, cohesive and accomplished set which, while too short to fully judge their potential, certainly would have made people stand up and pay attention.

With most of the attention on The Vaccines as the hot guitar band, Mona might well turn out to be this year’s Two Door Cinema Club – the band that quietly goes about their business, eventually eclipsing the ‘bigger’ tip, as showcased by TDCC’s position above The Drums tonight. Mona certainly aren’t lacking in confidence, opening tonight’s set with their recent and arguably most recognisable single, for everyone bar the dedicated Mona-ites at the barrier, ‘Trouble On The Way’. From then on, they burst through six tracks barely pausing for breath. Coming across like a sharper version of their close neighbours Kings Of Leon – early stuff, not their latter soulless stadium rock shtick – what’s most impressive about Mona’s live sound is that however loud it gets, you can still make out the individual riffs resulting in the likes of the delicate central notes in ‘Lines In The Sand’ really shining out. It’s not all about soft touches though, the chorus in ‘Listen To Your Love’ especially packing a brutal punch.

Three-quarters of the band learnt their trade in church and while the short set meant theatrics were kept to a minimum, the way front man Nick Brown prowled the front of stage before launching into the finale of ‘Lean Into The Fall’ gave the impression that given his own set freedom, he’d be preaching all night long until salvation was guaranteed – especially as ‘Shooting The Moon’ also has a refrain that just begs for a large scale sing along. Not entirely sure how the church would react to his generous swig of Tennessee’s favourite son Jack as he walks off the stage though; that’s just what the rock does to you. For twenty minutes at least, Brixton was Mona’s altar and the lack of walk outs suggested the congregation were listening.

Set List


Ian Sandwell

Updated: Dec 16, 2010

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