I’m going to try and backtrack a little here, simple reason is I LOVE MONA !

Right now they are touring in the States and their album came out on February 21st . I have to say I was a little surprised that we here in Europe have loved MONA for a over a year now, the album was released May 16, 2011 …..come on Americans, join into the Mona Cult 🙂
The first time I heard the band name MONA was through the artist Ben Montague, he mentioned them either on FB or Twitter that there  was a brilliant new band, so I checked them out, and was instantly hooked.
Soon after they announced a tour and I secured tickets to see them at the o2 Academy in Oxford…..I so couldn’t wait. 🙂

Oxford o2 Academy, 12/03/11
I can’t remember ever having been to the Oxford o2 Academy, but it was easy enough to find, especially when you don’t have to drive yourself! I invited my friend Neil along to check out this new band so many people are talking about.
Their song “Listen To Your Love” came out last year and I absolutely love it.
It is fairly easy to park around the o2 Oxford, you just have to be lucky to find a space…..

We joined to queue and it wasn’t long before we were allowed in. The o2 Oxford is really quite small, and it looks a bit run down, but that can add character to music venues, so I don’t have too much of a Problem with that.
I do remember being at the front and getting all excited when I spotted their flight-boxes and guitar case with MONA printed on them in big letters, yes, I was so looking forward to finally see them life.

The support band Cloud Control was up first ….obviously!….they were ok, but the sound was terrible, sooooooo loud! To be quite honest, I can’t remember them too well, that kind of tells me I may not have been too impressed. Maybe I should check them out again, just in case I missed something.
At last, the stage has been set for MONA, they come on stage and go straight into “trouble on the way“, I have to be honest here, now I know all of their songs, but I didn’t then. Nevertheless, I totally loved their set, even so it was insanely loud. Somewhere in the middle of the set, Nick Brown jumps from the stage to the barrier and climbs over to be amongst the people, nice touch. They played 8 songs all together….”shooting the moon” brilliant, and finished with “lean into the fall”, yes, you guessed it, another fantastic tune! I manage to grab the set list, and I love the way they did it, a bit like the old Hangman game, leaving letters out so you have to guess what it says. The band mingles in the crowd after they came off the stage which is great, I managed to get my set list signed and go away happy! I guess it is safe to say that now I’m a fully qualified MONAlet……wooohooo!! Poor Neil couldn’t hear for a couple of days, time to invest in some decent earplugs.

Hyde Park, London, 22/06/11
My second dose of Mona, yes, now that I have the Album and know it well….it will be even better than in Oxford. They are supporting Kings of Leon and the White Lies (hehehehe) at Hyde Park today, let’s hope it won’t rain!! Neil is coming along again, another fan……we got food and drink, weather looks ok….!
When we arrived at Hyde Park there were already quite a few people setting up camp near the stage, we decided to stay back a bit, we settled down, had food, chatted to people around us…..it’s a good atmosphere!
The afternoon started with the Zac Brown Band,. A country band, and yes, I quite like them, they are doing a great job kick-starting the day.
Next up is MONA, ….come on, bring it on. I’m very excited just to see the big banner at the back of the stage going up……the minute they start playing I’m mesmerized, I have to get closer, I leave Neil behind (he didn’t mind, or that is what he said) and snake my way through the crowd. I get quite near the stage, maybe 20 rows back, I decide to stay where I am as I found some fellow MONAlets and dance and scream with them. A couple of young girls push in asking if we minded if they join us as we were having so much fun….of course we didn’t!!!  MONA played 8 songs again, and their set was over far far too soon……! No chance of a set list here I’m afraid; I must polish up my Festival skills. Next stop for MONA will be Dublin, at Oxegen Festival…oh yeah.
After MONA the White Lies came on, they were ok, not mind blowing, for me that is, but the crowd loved them. Paul Weller was on next, not sure if I enjoyed him much, it seems such a long time ago and he didn’t stick in my mind, so my guess is he didn’t quite do it for me! Kings of Leon, just one word: amazing!  A fantastic end to the day, I’m glad I got the chance to see them live.

Dublin, Oxegen Festival, 9/07/11
Next MONA stop, second day of Oxegen, so far we have had a great time and have seen some great music, the four of us, Martina, Tina, Petra and I…are here at the Festival, but, we are taking the easy option and staying in a B&B.
But yet again I’m so excited about seeing MONA, the other girls keep taking the micky out of me and shout “MoooooNaaaaaa” at me every now and then….but I don’t care :-). When it’s time I go off to the 2EM Hotpress Academy tent, which is just next to the main Stage, Miles Kane is still doing his bit when I got there, but I didn’t have to wait long for him to finish. People moved away which gave me a chance to get to the barriers…:-), the change around on stage didn’t take too long either…..and then there they were! They started with “the tally”,  played eight songs in total. The show was brilliant, energetic and mad really, the crowd got really into their tunes, loving it. Even though the stage was quite high and quite a bit away from the barriers Nick did do his acrobatics this time too, not sure how he made that jump…lol, but the fans loved it!  Once they finished their set they came down and high fived everybody standing at the barriers and thanking them for coming to watch them even though the Arctic Monkeys were on the main stage, nice touch. When Vince was level with me I managed to ask him if there was any chance for a set list, he went off, climbed on stage and brought one down, result! I said that he deserves a hug, and I didn’t care that it was a sweaty one!
Thank you Vince, you made my day! Once MONA disappeared I went back to the girls by the main stage, just in time for the Foo Fighters…..good days 🙂

Shepherds Bush, London, 28/10/11
My 4th MONA gig in eight month, not bad going for this MONAlet! This time it’s a headlining show at London’s famous Shepherds Bush empire, one of my favourite venues, still small but big enough to attract big names, and MONA will be one of them I’m certain. The tickets are bought, the new T-shirt (courtesy of the lovely Jana) at the ready….bring it on!! 😉
Neil is coming along to this one too; we are waiting in the o2 priority queue, first in line if I remember rightly. While we are waiting, Nick Brown walks past the front of the empire and waiting fans a couple of times, sunglasses and all. Only a few realised who he was,  but nobody run up to him to ask for photos or signatures….I wonder if he wanted to check out the general reactions. Nick, for the time being you just got some smiles… 🙂
Once the doors opened and we took our space at the barrier, stage right of course, we had a look round the fellow MONAlets….yes, mixed ages ….young girls and cool guys and a handful of “past-their-sell-by-date rockers”, love it.
There are two support bands tonight, Fin and Transfer. Transfer is supposed to be brilliant; I think a lot of people have actually turned up for them tonight.
Fin are up first, the boys are very energetic, but somehow I just can’t get into them. They are jumping about the stage a lot, but it doesn’t look natural to me. So sorry Fin, you didn’t win me this time.
Next is Transfer, originally from San Diego, they feel much more at home on the stage. They really seem in good form and have the crowd singing and rhythmically nodding in no time, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see them headlining a good sized venue soon.
Next is MONA, the minute they step onto stage the crowd is screaming, MONA obviously has won the British crowd over. The following extract from the review in Clash Music has it down to a T: “Nick Brown, lead singer is highly energetic, blasting his lyrics into the crowd while jumping around the stage. It’s hot, sweaty and everyone is loving Mona. At the back of the Empire, people as casually drinking and nodding their heads while near the front there are mosh pits and people fist pumping into space.”
At some point, when they play “shooting the Moon” Nick climbs onto the speakers and waves up to the people sitting upstairs, oh that man knows how to work his audience. The tribute to Johnny Cash is amazing, this one is recorded in Liverpool, I couldn’t find a good one from London! Just wanted to make sure everybody knows the Man in Black had a big influence on MONA.
MONA does not let you down, once the magic is over you can’t help but feeling happy! Again I manage to get hold of the set list, and as we still linger at the barriers one of the Techies came over and passed us the bass drum cover, we took it, not quite sure how that happened. Of course we are planning to do some “stalking”, it’s so easy at Shepherds Bush. We join the other waiting fans outside, but it doesn’t take long for the band to appear, pictures are taken, memorabilia is signed…..and yes, I have photos with the boys, a signed set list and a drum cover signed by the lovely Vince. The world is a great place right now!

Bodega Club,Nottingham, 30/10/11
This will be my last MONA infusion for a while, Neil will be going to see them in Brighton, but I can’t make that date. As it is the day before Halloween, I decided to carve a MONA pumpkin and take it along. I have those little battery operated lights that flicker like candles and will be perfect for it.
The pumpkin turns out great, it’s all packed and we are ready to hit the road.
It’s a bit of a drive to Nottigham, but exciting at the same time, I haven’t been there before, and looking up the Bodega Club it seems small and intimate. We get there in good time, a few people are already queuing, we do see familiar faces, looks like MONA has got themselves a little possy of their own.
I catch someone talking and soon realise he is the tour manager; I have a quick word and ask if there was any chance of putting the pumpkin on stage. He took it and said that shouldn’t be a problem, great, that is sorted out!
Once we were allowed into the venue, our name got crossed of on the guest list and we have to climb some steep stairs. The place itself is great, wooden floors, bar down one side, tiny stage with the soundy opposite, just a little bigger than your average to large living/dining room. Love it!
The supports are the same as in London; I seriously wonder how Fin is going to do all that jumping about.
They soon show us….lol, it isn’t quite working and their moves really do have to be restricted. I’m still not taken by them, they just not for me.
Next is Transfer, yes, I have been looking forward to seeing them again, and they do not disappoint. The guys are big strapping men, and they do look crammed on that stage, but it shows true musicians, it does not whatsoever interfere with their performance. Their set is brilliant and over far too soon.
Finally MONA, again it is a squeeze on the stage. Vince walked on stage with the pumpkin and places it on the speaker right in front of us, we are standing stage left and I can hardly see Zach as he is tucked away by the big speakers on the other end, same goes for Vince, somewhere in the back behind the drums. Nick and Jordan are in good form today, they are really playing to each other and the crowd.
In Nick’s usual manner half way through the gig he starts climbing, up on the speakers, across to the bar (it’s only a jump away) and back to the speakers, the people love him. he sits on top to finish his song and then joins us mere mortals on the ground again. Once they finished the encore and the lights go up again I was hoping to get a set list, but the “possy” insisted of grabbing everything, drumsticks, plectrums and all paper bits. Hmmm, some fans are just not as nice as others! 😦
While I was still gathering my bits and pieces the tour manager came on stage to help dismantling the set, I heard one girl asking if she could take the pumpkin home, he pointed at me and said it’s hers. I told her that I would like the band to take it along to Brighton, which they said they would….
The boys came out of the dressing room and mingled with the fans, I took a great photo of the pumpkin and Vince, received compliments from all the others, Zach, Jordan and Nick, they all loved the touch of Halloween. I had my single signed….and given promises of a speedy return to the UK.
And that was my MONA fix for the year :-(, shame I can’t join Neil and Jana in Brighton.
On the way home we drove past the Ghost buster car….. that was fun! I made Neil overtake it a couple of times…..got home very late, tired but happy.

MONA, please don’t stay away too long from the UK and go and conquer America. x

PS: Mr. Nick Brown….smiling really suits you, do it more often please 😉 x


About FrontRowStef

Following months of putting in the necessary hours of research, I have been bullied into writing a blog about my gig experiences! I can’t claim in-depth technical musical knowledge, or a massive CD collection, but, I know what I like and what doesn’t sound good in a live setting. I’m not intending to write great reviews about bands, but more of stuff that happen to me while out and about. Like when a dear friend of mine pointed out that it looks like I’m putting my towel down when I hit the barriers at the front and claim my spot with my jacket draped over the railings. What does he mean? Is it because I’m German? Enough introductions, you will get to know me sooner or later! Oh and apparently I’m going to be referred to as Front Row Stef, simply because that is my rightful place!

2 responses »

  1. Volker Strehblow says:

    Love it lil sis!

  2. Martina Weidmann says:

    As always ….. Great reading ! Well done my dearest friend x

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