Union Pool, Brooklyn, January 16
These days, the road to being bigger than [a]Bono[/a] ([a]Mona[/a]’s stated aim) goes through Brooklyn – a place where the dreams of countless wannabe rock’n’rollers have been eroded by this town’s indifference. Tonight, [a]Mona[/a] know they’re in for a real test. “I know we’re a bunch of rednecks from Nashville but c’mon, Brooklyn, give us more than that,” spits singer [b]Nick Brown[/b], in a sassy attempt to get the crowd on his band’s side early on. The real persuading, though, is in the first few songs, all of which whizz by in a blur that comes stunningly close to justifying their status as 2011’s Best New American Import. Both [b]‘Trouble On The Way’[/b] and [b]‘Teenager’[/b] come at you like airborne shots of adrenalin, brimming with the kind of choruses that you can cash in at the bank. [a]Mona[/a] then decide to unveil their arena ambitions with [b]‘Lines In The Sand’[/b] – a towering piece of whiskey-stained soul that could stop traffic. For this dazzling quarter of an hour, the band seem like instant stars rather than just hot prospects.
Perhaps inevitably, this blitzkrieg of brilliance isn’t sustainable. Nick’s wide-eyed energy and rock-star shapes disappear as they plod through the soft-rock filler [b]‘Say You Will’[/b] and by the time the unveil the [a]U2[/a]-by-numbers [b]‘Cloak And Dagger’[/b], it seems like all four of them can’t wait to get it over with so they can go onto something better.
And they do exactly that with epic closer [b]‘Lean Into The Fall’[/b], which takes their debt to [a]Kings Of Leon[/a] to wonderfully dramatic heights and wins over Brooklyn’s indie sceptics. But [a]Bono[/a] is a rock star all of the time and if they ever hope to surpass him, [a]Mona[/a] will have to figure out a way to do the same.