Of Monsters & Men @ Orpheum Theatre 11.19.12

by Tom Doherty (Journalism), published November 28th 2012

photos by Felix P.

There is something endearing about a chubby man with a beard, blazer, and beautiful voice. That would be Ragnar Þórhallsson, Of Monsters and Men’s male vocalist and guitar player. Ragnar and band-founder Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (let’s stick with first names from now on) are the voices that have driven this Icelandic band to become one of the hottest new bands of the year. At Boston’s Orpheum Theatre on November 19th, Ragnar conceded that “We kind of feel far away from home tonight.” An understandable feeling, but one that the band should get used to – they are in high demand all over the world.

Of Monsters and Men finally emerged on stage just past nine o’clock in a haze of purple light. Before making any small talk with the Boston crowd, the band jumped into “Dirty Paws,” the opening track from their debut album, My Head Is an Animal. Despite this attempted quick start, the concert began slowly.

The Orpheum Theatre, with its elegant ceiling motifs and comfortable seats, is to blame. The venue was cramped and the audience didn’t know whether to sit or stand. There was an awkward composition of standers and sitters. Some people looked like they were dancing to dubstep that only they could hear and others might have been sleeping. Of Monsters and Men got through three whole songs before they took control of the crowd as they played “Mountain Sound.” For the fourth song of the night, Ragnar asked the balcony to sing with him and Nanna called upon the lower level as the two split the chorus. Now everyone was standing, clapping, and singing. Of Monsters and Men finally seemed at home.

After a cover of “Skeletons” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs that sounded as natural as any of the band’s own songs, Of Monsters and Men leaped into an awesome succession of great songs: “King and Lionheart,” “Lakehouse” (best song of the night), and of course “Little Talks.” Every last audience member belted out “Hey!” during the band’s hit single (and at all the right times, too!). Despite the slow start and apparent lack of energy onstage, Of Monsters and Men found their groove and the audience adored it. It was obvious that the band loves what they do and pour their souls into their music – and it was infectious.

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