Of Monsters and Men Create a Storm With an Explosive Sunday Performance at Latitude Festival.
All of the eyes in the tent are locked on Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdótti, the co lead vocalist of Of Monsters and Men. She is clad in a bright body suit with white tassels flowing down from each arm and has the look of a vaguely punky arc angel. Statue-esk in the shadows of the stage, she perches in front of her microphone and the rest of the band file out behind her taking up their positions on the stage. Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson; co lead vocalist and guitarist, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson and Bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson.
The Icelandic five piece known for their glorious harmonics and orchestral Indie folk style haven’t been back to the UK for some time and their excitement is visible as they smile out into the crowd and begin their set. Hilmarsdóttir’s fragile but powerful voice echoes out across the tent pairing itself gloriously with that of Þórhallsson and his punchy trademark guitar riffs. The majority of the set comes from OMAM’s newest album Beneath the Skin. ‘Skin was born back in 2014 after the band’s first album My Head is an Animal brought them fame and huge critical acclaim in 2011. Beneath the Skin is light, ethereal and full of fantastical images of the ferocity of natural beauty. From forests full of living talking trees to great walls of ice one can only assume that the lyrics allude to the group’s homeland. (or perhaps a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones!) With “Skies of powdered gold” and “clouds of silver rope” OMAM’s songs are perhaps a stones throw away from an epic Wordworthian poem. To add to the majesty of the atmosphere Hilmarsdóttir grabs hold of drum at the front of the stage that is half her own height and begins furiously pounding down on it. The tassles hanging from her bodysuit cobweb around her with every crash and the low rumble of the drum resonates through the grass beneath our feet.
Amidst Hilmarsdóttir pounding percussion ‘Little Talks’ begins and the crowd explodes into a cacophony of appreciation. The atmosphere in the tent erupts into a dizzying celebration both off stage and on. ‘Little Talks’ which came with their first album will likely always be the bands biggest hit, but there’s no denying OMAM’s ability to command and captivate their audience. Throughout the set their wasn’t a single individual not up and dancing to the beat of Hilmarsdóttir’s drum bashing. ‘Crystals’ shook the tent with mammoth, pulsing beats and rich acoustic guitar sounds that slide across the ears ringing in the air for hours. With‘Empire,’ the band plunges into new depths creating a sound that is something akin to Warpaint merged deliciously with the bucolic, romantic ingredients you find with the likes of Fleet Foxes. There is an orchestral glow hanging over the group as the lights of the stage roll over them and their monumental sound rings out into the night.
The set ends with an explosion of coloured paper which jettisons into the air above the crowd and rains down upon thousands of faces. The band let out the last notes of ‘King and Lionheart’ and the lights go out. Their lyrics are profound and their sound mighty, OMAM engulf their audience and hold them in their grip until well after the show is over.
Photography Thistle Prince. Featured Image Rob Copsey