Mondo Cozmo (El Rey Theatre)

El Rey Theatre | Los Angeles, CA | September 26, 2017 | Photo Credit: Emery Becker

It was Mondo Cozmo’s first hometown show after having spent half of the year on the road thrashing about on stages in Europe and the U.S. After taking the stage and powering through a batch of songs,the first spoken words out of Josh Ostrander’s mouth to address the local crowd ripe with family, friends and familiars were, “This is what not giving up looks like.”

I’m thinking that would look mighty sharp on a t-shirt. Get on that Republic Records.

As nights of music go, it was a warm-hearted one: homecoming, celebration, victory lap and an end-of-first-headlining-tour-dance party all rolled into one brought in full force by the talents of the “greatest band ever” made up of Drew Beck (guitar), Chris Null (bass), James Gordon (keys) and Andrew Tolman (drums) powerfully synched with Ostrander’s mission of throwing down as hard as the heart and body will allow them to, and bodies were put into it. There was Ostrander prowling the stage, making contact with the boys in the band, on his knees, on his back, airborne from the bass drum. Guitar versus bass, stage left as Beck and Null got especially physical ending with Null sprawled out and Beck losing all audio in his ear monitors: but you’d never know it because he’s just that good. It was all about the earnest honesty of sing-a-longs from Mondo Cozmo’s debut album, Plastic Soul, like the Springsteen channeling “Thunder” and undercover gospel of “Shine,” the boogie down of “Higher” and pogo-inducing “Automatic,” the feisty and beloved (and pretty damned mandatory) coverage of The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” heart-aching ballads “Angel” and “Hold On To Me,” but then Ostrander had to inject legendary into the mix with a gently swelling take on David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Apropos.

As nights of music go, it was a warm and triumphant one for the audience in love with some of the more meaningful music to break through in recent memory, and for its maker who is a much needed exemplar of living up instead of giving up.

Setlist:  “Chemical Dream” / “Higher” / “Come With Me” /”Angel” / “Future Bends” / “Hold On To Me” / “Shine” / “Thunder” / “Plastic Soul” / “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (The Verve) / “11 Acre” / “Heroes” (David Bowie) / “Automatic”

Getting the night started, North Carolina’s Flagship charmed the room with their immersive rock with songs from their Joey Waronker-produced second album, The Electric Man. Come back and see us again soon, gentlemen.

Mondo Cozmo