Of Mice & Men are no strangers to the art of performing. Having recently released a live DVD filmed at the O2 Brixton Academy, the group have proven themselves beyond capable of enrapturing audiences in the biggest venues London has to offer. Tonight, however, the Kentish Town Forum awaits – and though she be but little, she is fierce.
Hands Like Houses emerge first to a roar of approval, their vivacity contagious as the crowd warm up under the watchful eye of Trenton Woodley, the front-man eagerly lapping up their enthusiasm with a warm, welcoming smile. The quintet’s set is short but nevertheless sweet. It’s composed of tracks spanning the bands discography – three albums worth of songs carefully whittled into a pile of fan favourites both new and old that do not fail to deliver on the night.
In their wake comes Crown The Empire, who throw themselves into their set with every ounce of their beings. Andy Leo’s piercing tones ring out into the chorus of ‘The Fallout’ as the frontman sheds his suit jacket, hastily pushing up the sleeves of his shirt that appears fresh-pressed and more suited for a fancy dining experience than an audience of 2000 plus. From ‘Zero’ to ‘Hologram’ to ‘Weight Of The World’, Crown The Empire keep the audience jumping with every member demonstrating an acute sense of showmanship from beginning to end. As the group depart, the room tremors in anticipation, eager ears sharpened for the moment the main act step on stage.
The release of Of Mice & Men’s latest album Cold World is what brings the band here, yet the seamless blend of tracks both old and new creates a setlist that would satiate even the most devout fan. Frontman Austin Carlisle’s gurgling growls are delivered with reverent and relentless anger from start to finish, brass-toned hair slicked back as he discards his baseball cap in favour of a more rigorous form of head-banging. From ‘Feels Like Forever’ to ‘Relentless’, Carlisle directs the crowd, a towering puppeteer of epic proportions as the crowd leap at his feet, head banging and chanting along with his every word. To say that he has the crowd enraptured would be an understatement – here he domineers as vocalist Aaron Pauley takes to the mic, delivering pitch-perfect falsettos that move fluidly into the space between earthy growls and tapped guitar melodies. As the lights dim down, so does the music, ‘The Calm’ lulling the crowd into a false sense of tranquillity before ‘The Storm’ turns them from wavering bystanders into a frenzied sea of swarming bodies once again. The action appears to be over all too soon, yet the full-throttle onslaught of hit records resumes as the band are lured from the wings for an encore comprised of two more songs. ‘You’re Not Alone’s’ upbeat melody is ever a crowd-pleaser, but ‘Second & Sebring’ the bands signature closing track delivers in its attempt to appease everyone.
It may have been a long journey, and it may be further still until Of Mice & Men take their places among the upper echelons of rock, however their spirit prevails, each and every member a shining example of what the pinnacle of showmanship should look like. The road ahead may be unfamiliar, but rest assured – whatever the world throws at them, Of Mice & Men’s rebuttal will be ten times harder.
Words By Daisy Hearn