Friday, December 07, 2012

Mumford & Sons... 07 December 2012

When we weren't able to get tickets for this gig, we gave it up as a lost cause and decided we'd wait a decade or so until they're less popular and playing smaller venues, a la The Levellers.  However, just a few weeks ago, a friend gave us the choice to buy two tickets if we were interested. 

So it was that this evening we found ourselves, with five other friends, in a huge arena, watching these guys play and feeling very privileged to have the chance to do so! 

And was it ever worth it.  I was given their first album three years ago and immediately fell in love with their music.  That was back when they were playing pubs and clubs; I never imagined we'd see them someday in a venue filled with thousands of other concertgoers.  However, times are changing and folk music, especially folk music like these guys play it, is currently riding an increasing wave of popularity. No longer enjoyed merely by typical Iron & Wine/The Bushburys/Eliza Carthy/Kate Rusby/Bob Dylan fans, everyone seems to be appreciating a bit of folk nowadays.

They are probably most correctly termed a "folk-rock" band.  However, their music has nothing of the punk element possessed by The Levellers. This was a squeaky clean gig in comparison to our night out a few weeks ago! Instead of rebellious, anarchic, middle-aged, drunken anger, there's a genuine wistful spirituality and wandering tone in all of Mumford & Sons' songs; elementally, they are constructed with lyrical hints of Shakespearean phrases and coloured with Biblical imagery.  

After an hour and a half of music --virtually non-stop-- they left the stage and the noise in the audience was deafening as the crowd asked for an encore.  However, the band weren't finished at all.  On the floor way below us, we noticed the crowd in the standing-only section part slightly and then rush forward, and in an instant, lights revealed the band gathered near the sound desk in the centre of the floor. Here, with fans massed closely, they played two unplugged pieces. When the lights went down, we all clapped and prepared to encore yet again; however, seconds later they appeared back on stage!  The way they kept us guessing about the end of the gig was brilliant.  Their finishing piece, after a two-hour performance, was a loud and fun cover of the Beatles' song, "With a Little Help From My Friends".

The only unfortunate element of Mumford & Sons is their incredible popularity right now.  I mean, they've just been nominated for six Grammy awards! [I love the fact that this British band's album is nominated in the "Best Americana Album" category.] Why unfortunate? I find it hard to believe that everyone in the arena tonight fully appreciated their musical genius. So many people follow musicians only because they're "on-trend", and tonight's audience was, predictably, completely infiltrated by hipsters.  Just for the record, in that massive crowd, I saw no other dreadies, unlike our Levellers evening when the place was swarming with them.  Thus, I'm overjoyed to report that crazy heads of dreads don't appear to be trending!  

So, as tradition dictates for gig reviews on this blog, here are two musical selections: one, a live version of their Grammy-nominated song "I Will Wait", and two; the melancholic "Where Are You Now?", one of the songs they played last night during their unplugged stint in the centre of the arena, filmed by an enthusiastic member of the crowd of fifteen thousand.

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