A painted eye – built of thick, broad strokes and bright, pink tones – consumes the stage and backdrop of tonight's Of Monsters And Men Sydney show (7 January). It peers mercilessly into the sky almost weeping, completely taken aback. Much like tonight’s crowd.
They’ve been waiting, patiently may I add, for the Icelandic folk-rockers to wind their way across the US and Europe toward Australia to champion their ‘Fever Dream’ tour. And I think it’s safe to say that the wait has been worth it.
On stage, the quintet are a bundle of energetic notes, seizure-inducing lights, charismatic characters and smoked-up vocals that would have you tearing up over their beauty. That is, if the desire to dance to their electrifying tunes don’t get you first.
Having started the ball rolling with 'Fever Dream's hero track, ‘Alligator’ it’s the latter that grabs the punters by the legs and whips them into motion.
For anyone unfamiliar with their newest release, OMAM doesn’t leave them in the lurch, following it up with oldie and goodie, ‘Empire’. As the track climbs, it feels as though the entire theatre has stolen the mic out of lead singer Ragnar Þórhallsson’s hands as his “ooohs” become a choir of thousands.
He barely notices though, intent on covering as much ground as possible in the little time we have together. More classics spill out including ‘Mountain Sound’, ‘King And Lionheart’, ‘Little Talks’ and ‘Human’, much to the audience’s delight.
Naturally, newbies have been peppered into the set list, many of them shaped to tingle and chill such as ‘Sleepwalker’ and ‘Róróró’ where female vocalist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir channels an almost operatic vocal.
But the fun really starts when ‘Lakehouse’ drops and we start to see Hilmarsdóttir and drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson reveal their playful stage characters.
Gone are their posts behind the drum and mic; Hilmarsson standing up in attention, hand on his chest in mock ceremony as the first lyrics are uttered, before brandishing his drumsticks to conduct the masses. It’s not so much instructive as it is comical.
Hilmarsdóttir ditches her position behind her mic and climbs to the high backstage to hoist her guitar up as though in a rock concert. For ‘Six Weeks’ she back there again. This time banging the drums alongside Hilmarsson before impishly disposing of her sticks to close out the set.
It feels like it’s over, but it’s definitely not – especially now that the characters are out of their cages. Hilmarsdóttir starts the encore perched patiently on the edge of the stage singing ‘Waiting For The Snow’. This moment of stillness doesn’t last long, however, and within minutes she’s bouncing across the stage burning more of that impish energy to ‘Dirty Paws’.
The crowd is taken. . . and then Þórhallsson gives out his final orders. It’s our last chance to sing. And with ‘Yellow Light’ on the tips of our tongues, we give in once more, singing the epically harmonious tune until the lights fade to black.