Reviewed on Thursday June 27
The evening began at the Hi-Fi with a solo set by Mick Turner (The Dirty Three). Modestly seated at the side of the stage – surrounded by a semi-circle of pedals – he created beautiful loops from his telecaster. Occasionally reaching for a touch pad drum machine, a violin bow, and a melodica, Turner formed a mosaic of open-ended, dynamic jams. Dazzling a sparse audience who couldn’t help but sit on the floor, it felt like some sort of weird beer-picnic. Turner’s tone is angelic – his voicing, anaesthetising.
By the time the curtains closed to set up for Japanese post-rock legends Mono, the small crowd had magnetised to the stage. I felt incredibly fortunate to be a part of an intimate setting, in a massive venue so well suited to the enormous sounds of Mono. An orchestral piece played through the PA and they appeared onstage. Seated to each side were guitarists Takaakira Goto and Hideki Suematsu, with bassist Tamaki Kunishi and drummer Yasunori Takada in the centre. The stage itself was like a metropolis of gear – between the towers of amps was a piano keyboard, two glockenspiels and a drum kit complete with a gong and huge timpani.
Opening with ‘Legend’, the first track off their latest album For My Parents, the sound was overwhelming. Takada created thunderous crescendos with his timpani, while Goto and Suematsu harmonised with tremolo picking. They held back nothing in their delivery, at times playing so furiously the sound of their picks against the strings was audible above the amplification. The set itself was of recording quality. Playing all but one track of For My Parents, the rest was comprised of tracks from their previous album Hymn to the Immortal Wind. The highlight of the set for me was ‘Pure as Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)’. Goto stood up and, holding his guitar upside down as if it were a weapon, created phaser-filled feedback at the peak of the song. He’s one of the most emotive performers I have ever seen.
Mono is an emotional rollercoaster to witness in the flesh. After 90 minutes of standing completely stationary for their set, I was physically drained. It is rare to see a live act that is as expressive as they are musically tight. Breathtaking.
BY HARRIS MACKENZIE-BOOCK