Icelandic newcomers impress...

Icelanders do things differently.

A redoubtable nation on the fringe of the Arctic circle, the island has developed an outsider mentality where idiosyncrasies are common currency. Yet Of Monsters And Men are – dare we say it – almost entirely straight forward in their intentions.

Containing the same rabble-rousing streak which fuels Arcade Fire, the band’s relentless, anthemic approach has already caused waves in the United States. Booked to play the confines of the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, tickets flew out the door with the ‘sold out’ signs blinking onto ticket sites within four hours.

Yet they’re an unassuming bunch. Lining up across the stage, Of Monsters And Men retain a bashful, almost awkward nature. Which is, of course, soon dispelled by the music.

Drawing heavily on their debut album, the Icelanders have a confidence which is rare in a new group. The highlights are, predictably in a live setting, the more nostril flaring, blood quickening elements of their output with ‘Little Talks’ bursting into life at the intimate London venue. Yet there’s subtlety here too, with their more introspective moments – step forward ‘Dirty Paws’, we’re looking at you ‘Love Love Love’ - notably pulling at the heartstrings.

Sure, it’s not quite the polished, relentless touring machine it will no doubt become but tonight’s show is all about promise and character. Ending with a slow, mournful take on The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’ Of Monsters And Men are clearly capable of taking great risks, but they never lose their will to connect, to share something with the audience. Shambling offstage, it’s doubtful if a London crowd will be lucky enough to catch the Icelandic group in such intimate confines – but with a show like this, it would be churlish in the extreme to begrudge them their success.

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