11 November 2012 (gig)
14 November 2012
At the Bablyon in Mitte, Berlin an excited crowd awaits. A current of awareness is undulating throughout the seated masses, some have been through this experience before, and a fortunate minority may have never even heard the band about to perform tonight.
Before Japanese post-rock band Mono appear, a mild-mannered looking fellow with balding grey hair, checked shirt and nondescript jacket ambles up to the stage, sits on a stool, and picks up a guitar. He becomes the most stunning opening act I've seen thus far in my gig-going life. Using a foot pedal at specific intervals to record portions of his unceasing recording, he washes the crowd with reverb and melody, cascading shoegaze guitar loops leave us in a trance state.
He is Jonathan Kroll, going by the name A Newborn Riot of Dreams. Before we've had time to recover from his sonic assault on our souls, Mono appears on stage. Takaakira, Hideki, Tamaki and Yasunori begin with the first track off their latest album ‘For My Parents’, which may as well be re-titled For My Fans for all the satisfaction it generates through absolutely epic waves and crescendos. Think classical music blended with cinema soundtrack and you're getting close. Some parts of the track ‘Legend’ feel like they could be on the soundtrack to an alternate Sergio Leone western that was never released.
The night is spent with Mono sprinkling in a few of their older tracks from their 2009 album ‘Hymn To The Immortal Wind’ and ultimately ending with 'Everlasting Light'. Given that the Babylon is too small a venue to fit in an orchestra they had to forgo some tracks (like a favourite of mine, ‘Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn’), but the band is so versatile and have such a dramatic presence formed by their commitment to recreating an unforgettable experience every night of their tours, you'd never even realise an orchestra was missing on this night.
Performing each of their songs must be a physically and emotionally exhausting endeavour, yet they do it all the same, every night, in a typically Japanese way, never showing any slack, always 100% devoted.
Mono swept the audience away with their unique brand of cinematic bombast, and remain the greatest performing band today, in my humble opinion.