Mono at The Fleece, BristolSupport: A Storm of Light| Jo Quail
October 1, 2018 at The Fleece, Bristol
When Japanese instrumental giants Mono announced their latest European sojourn, one that took in several dates in the UK, fans rejoiced at the prospect of seeing the band live again on these shores for the first time since 2016. With a new album arriving early next year too, the anticipation of the band debuting new material was another reason to not miss out; and the fact that they are such a sublime act in a live environment meant that there was a very healthy crowd to see them in Bristol, for the first date of the tour.
Joining Mono were A Storm of Light (who are just about to release their crushing new album Anthroscene) and Bristol-based cellist Jo Quail; and the variety of all three acts on the bill made this a must-see prospect.
Despite a series of technical problems that gave way to the gig starting a little later than expected – and in turn, a shortened set from the opening act – Jo Quail, playing in her home town, gave it her all; and even though she only played three songs in her set, it showcased more in that time than many acts do when they have three or four times as long, such was her musical magnificence and resonating power.
Straight from the off, Quail wowed the audience with her sublime playing, and the three tracks that she chose were delivered with both elegance and power. ‘Laurus’, ‘Gold’ and new track ‘Mandrel Cantus’ (which will be on her forthcoming album Exsolve) were played with passion, as her gentle noise looped and grew into a stunning crescendo through the duration of each piece. This opening set was extremely well received as the audience watched in quiet awe with the only noise coming in huge waves of applause as she finished each of the compositions. Jo Quail constantly delivers in the live arena, just as she did earlier in the year supporting Amenra and Boris, and tonight was certainly no exception. The new track will have fans eagerly anticipating Exsolve, and she is not be missed when she tours in support of it. A fine start to the evening.
A Storm of Light followed swiftly and wasted absolutely no time in pummelling the Bristol crowd with a set that focussed heavily on their new album Anthroscene.
With a new line-up in place, the band dominated the audience’s eyes and ears with a non-stop barrage of brilliance in a blistering set that definitely whetted the audiences appetite for the new album.
A Storm of Light are obviously a much heavier prospect than both the opening and headline acts tonight, and that made them stand out; and they, rightly, received a very warm welcome throughout with the band only pausing to say “thank you” to the crowd, and just let their music do the talking. The fact that this was the very first time the Anthroscene material had been played live was made all the more impressive with the devastating delivery of the songs; and just like every time I have witnessed the band before, they were above all simply awesome in the way they delivered their set. Opening with new song ‘Rosebud’, the band blasted through two tracks from last album Nations To Flames in ‘Soothsayer’ and ‘You Are The Hunted’ before concentrating on Anthroscene – with highlights from the new material being the caustic noise of ‘Life Will Be Violent’ and a crushing version of the aptly titled ‘Slow Motion Apocalypse’ – before a triumphant rendition of ‘Collapse’ from the As The Valley Of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade rounded things off superbly.
The visuals too, as always, enhanced the bands apocalyptic music; and the images selected by main-man Josh Graham fitted the tracks they played, both old and new, perfectly. With Anthroscene, A Storm of Light have excelled again; it was a pleasure to witness these tracks and those older favourites played live, and a treat knowing that this was the very first time the new songs had been played to an audience. A brilliant performance from a brilliant band.
As Mono take the stage for their headline performance, there is a sense of quiet expectation in the venue; and as they start playing their opening number ‘After You Comes The Flood’ from their album Nowhere Now Here, due to be released early next year, a sense of awe builds and builds, much like the track, with the guitar playing of Takaakira Goto and Hideki Suematsu simply mesmerizing, resulting in a shared experience from a crowd revelling in the sublime nature of Mono’s music.
This building sense of momentum is a constant in Mono’s set, and as bassist Tamaki Kunishi enters the fray for the particularly haunting ‘Death In Rebirth’, it is simply spellbinding to watch and hear. As the title track of the new album is played, it is simply wonderful to witness how a wall of noise builds and builds even more, with the awe-inspiring nature of their music very much to the fore throughout.
‘Sorrow’ and ‘Halcyon (Beautiful Days)’ were definite personal highlights; but the bands entire set was simply a thing of beauty, with the band demonstrating exactly why they are held in such high regards as individual musicians and as an ensemble in a live environment.
The band were captivating throughout the duration of their set, hypnotizing in their brilliance and the mixture of material both old and new that created a seamless journey through different stages of Mono’s career and was constantly jaw dropping in its delivery. They were deservedly treated with a heroes’ welcome throughout and a joy to witness, rounding off a night packed full of great music.
The crowd in the Fleece tonight have been treated to three different sets and styles of music that ultimately fit in so well with each other in terms of passion and delivery, while the one thing that united them was that all three were truly magnificent.