There’s no denying that the rise of Mongolian metal band The Hu, has been nothing short of meteoric during the last few years. Many of their recent tour dates have sold out, and the audience was packed in so tightly at the O2 Institute for their Birmingham date, that maybe they could have done with a venue upgrade to cope with the demand.
As audience anticipation grew and chanting began, a hefty ensemble of eight musicians took to the stage; the four main members of The Hu (multi-instrumentalists Gala, Jaya, Enkush and Temka), along with four more touring musicians (drummer Odko, percussionist Ono, guitarist Jamba and bassist Davaa).
The Hu’s music is a combination of heavy rock and metal, mixed with traditional Mongolian sounds such as Morin Khuur (a horsehead fiddle), Tsur (Mongolian flute), Tovshuur (Mongolian guitar/ lute), Tumurkhuur (Jaw Harp) and throat singing; which makes for a rather unusual yet distinctive ‘Hunnu Rock’ sound. Their sophomore album Rumble of Thunder may have only been released a few months ago, but the fans were clearly already familiar with the tracks as they cheered and stomped their feet throughout the evening’s opener Shihi Hutu.
The band sang and largely communicated to the fans in their native tongue, and even though I’d imagine that very few audience members in the UK can speak or understand the Mongolian language, there was a distinct sense of unity throughout as everyone got involved. There was an almost primal and magnetic energy from the get-go, as the band encouraged the audience to join in throughout with fist punches in the air and chants such as ‘Shoog, Shoog’ and ‘Hu! Hu! Hu!’
Largely inspired by history, culture, nature and unity; their epic and enthralling set largely drew from their first two albums, The Gereg and Rumble of Thunder. Particular highlights included Triangle, Bii Biyelgee, Yuve Yuve Yu and Wolf Totem, which everyone seemed to be thrilled to hear live.
The Hu ended their set on a high with an uplifting nod of unity and good fortune to their country and fans with This Is Mongol. Following final enthusiastic chants of ‘HU! HU! HU!’ from the audience, the band returned to the stage to perform an amazing encore; their own cover of the Metallica classic Sad But True.