It had been too long between now and the last time MONO were performing in Australia, or at least it felt like it had been too long.
Kicking things off with a set of builds was Svntax Error. Gradually and steadily each member moved along with each other, finding a space to fill whilst pushing outward into the audience. Everything sat together nicely and there was an appreciable clarity to their sound. Nothing was too intense and the songs travelled well; it was a good way to start the evening off.
We Lost the Sea followed with a much louder, and in places more aggressive set. Their desire seemed to be around providing something more driving. As such, through various moves and forms of loudness, driving is what they provided. Requisite quiet moments provided a bit of breathing space, and overall their set displayed their technical prowess as a band.
When some people go to see a band touring in support of an album they want to see an album recreated faithfully; some people don’t, and some people don’t mind either way. Here MONO sounded how they do on their albums, but they sounded much better than that implies.
MONO were here to support Pilgrimage of the Soul, though it felt more like combining parts of that album, Nowhere Now Here and a few other congruent pieces, leading to an overall smooth setlist. Everything went off pretty well and it felt like a journey, or perhaps a statement of intent. Rises and falls in all the right places, strong group work, you get the idea.
The last time I saw MONO it was at The Metro. I said that probably the greatest thing about their performance was how emotionally moving it was. Their ability to emotionally sway was still there and still welcome; it’s something they’re quite good at doing. However, I think that at Manning it tied with presence.
MONO’s music is quite “wide” in many places. There was something about how it was there and happening at Manning that made it hit so much harder. Maybe it had to do with performing at a venue less vertical, so to speak, than The Metro, but the sound felt freer to travel more outward than upward. Through this and an absolutely tight and passionate performance, the songs grew into something monumental.
MONO themselves were firmly within the grasp of the moment, and they were welcoming the audience to be there with them. I’m fairly certain the audience was happy to do so; I know that I was.