Latest release: Hymn to the Immortal Wind 
File under: Post-rock
Venue: The Croft (Bristol, UK)
The Croft isn't the most comfortable live venue in the world. A small room which probably holds a couple of hundred people maximum, when I saw Red Sparowes there last July it was like a sardine tin - so much so that the door couldn't even be shut due to the mass of people packed in. Luckily, this time it wasn't as packed, and I had a good view from the front, to the left of the stage. With comfort not an issue this time, I was free to enjoy Mono's music alone, and I wasn't disappointed.
A show to promote their new album, they played every song from it except one ("Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn"), opening with the stunning "Ashes in the Snow", perhaps my new favourite Mono song. With no microphone on stage it was down to the bands' instruments and actions to do the communicating, so luckily the sound was perfect and Mono were on top form, sending chills down my spine at many points.
During "The Battle to Heaven", the band, especially Taka, really came to life. At the peak of the song Taka kicked the stool he was sitting on over and headbanged his way to his knees, all the while still playing - his cut and bandaged arm didn't stop him from being this animated throughout the night, at points playing his guitar upside down and on his knees. All of them were headbanging during the climactic sections and exhuded a real passion for what they were playing. They didn't need a microphone to convey that.
More cuts from their new album followed, along with a couple of older songs - "Lost Snow" being perhaps the best performance of the night, a near 20 minute rendition which left Takada slumped over his drumkit as the rest of the band set the room awash with guitar drone and noise to close the song. "Everlasting Light" ended the night, the band crescendoing to one final zenith.
The crowd cheer and the band leave exhausted (especially Taka and Takada), but not before giving some wry smiles and almost embarrassed bowing as if they weren't worthy of such a reception...and if they really did feel that way, then it was about the only thing they got wrong all night.
Ashes in the Snow
The Battle to Heaven
Follow the Map
Pure as Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)
Burial at Sea