Saturday, 10 October 2009
Mumford & Sons have definitively come to an end of their packed out 2009 tour schedule, finishing up with their second to last date at the Talking Heads pub Southampton on Thursday night. They topped a mixed bill, consisting of regular fixture Pete Roe, and the not quite so well received Shoreline, whose ten member assembly of progressive folk packed out both the stage and, unfortunately, the unusually well-populated smokers area.
Pete Roe and his distinctly British storytelling opened the show. Topped in a black hat and beard, he told lightly fingerpicked and charismatically sung stories to an attentive crowd - sadly the same could not be said of Shoreline, whose overcrowded folk show left their remaining onlookers looking onwards in hope for the next act. They played technically well but lacking convictions that Pete Roe held, and Mumford & Sons excelled.
They took to the stage and left much of the tightly packed crowd slightly in awe. At first they appeared tired, but as they began to play their music, their momentum began to build. Album opener 'Sign No More' was also the show opener, and aside from providing a fantastic slow-started tension build and euphoric outro, it gave the signal that this was a band likely to stick to their studio structures rather that experiment on stage. Mumford & Sons somehow manage to be a truly original sounding band even within the fairly excessive boundaries of traditional folk. Their standard stage set-up always leaves them with little room to manouevre, but they definitely move how they can within their restrictions - whether it be Marcus' half dancing or Ben's headbanging, or even the improvised keyboard melodies ever present behind Mumford & Son's web of folk music.
As the show progressed, Mumford grew in confidence and live-favourite 'Roll Away Your Stone' came out half way through. The band finished their set with lesser known album track 'Dust Bowl Dance' which went down fantastically. M&S momentum is growing and growing and their plastering everywhere from Amazon to Itunes to the new music section in HMV is infinitely well-deserved. How many folk bands are their these days that can boast a high-chart position?
Marcus Mumford is brimming with talent and his unassuming crowd gaze begs the question, where has he been until now? His young early 20 year old self has spent years as tour drummer for Laura Marling and his London anti-folk connections have earn't the band a well-deserved kickstart in terms of promotion. It is fantastic to see that the music of 2009 (although currently residing at its electronic pinnacle) still has time for manic musical arrangements of acoustics, double basses and black banjos. Some of the most talented folk musicians of the day are still gaining respect for making incredible music. M&S's show is personal to the point that they could fill an arena with people and still speak to every one of them. The tour is on its way to the close and this end will hopefully mark an inspired return to the studio - where M&S can work their raw and euphoric bluegrass into the form of a follow-up.
Pete Roe on Myspace. (worth checking out) He also has a quite an in depth auto-biography in his about me section.
Mumford & Sons - Roll Away Your Stone (live) (MP3) (taken from BBC Radio 1 Live Sessions)
Mumford & Sons - The Cave (MP3) (taken from the 2009 album Sigh No More)
Mumford & Sons - Dust Bowl Dance (MP3) (taken from the 2009 album Sigh No More)