Mumford and Sons at The O2 on 16th December 2012
Ah well, sure isn’t it only those band of nu-folk rapscallions that go by the name of Mumford and Sons. Coming into town, riding the crest of the pop folk wave they now inhabit. A seat in The O2 was the nights hot ticket as throngs flocked through the doors to have a right old knees up, for what was the penultimate show for Mumford and Sons, ending a near 2 years of touring.
A gigantic fabric banner dressed the stage, emblazoned rather eye-fetchingly by the Mumford and Sons logo. The lights faded and the night was underway as a single beam of light shines upon the banner, revealing only the silhouettes of the four members. In a rather impressive, early 90’s type game-show fashion, the banner is lifted in rapid motion to reveal Marcus and co. Babel blasts around The O2 as the rather raucous opening powers on. A taster of the banjo infused goodness to come perhaps?
It’s not long before the band acknowledge the crowd and say “It’s great to be back … especially here”. Moments later, I Will Wait begins quick, gathers more pace and near explodes towards the pinnacle of the songs end. Where Is My Heart ends this impressive introduction to this packed O2 crowd as the crowd stare wide eyed toward the stage.
Below My Feet brings the heart rate down and takes on a whole new entity when played live. It starts slow but true to form it builds into a Goliath of joyous screams. The lyrics shine to the forefront and remind us of Marcus’ songwriting craftsmanship. To think Mumford and Sons are just a product of a catchy big chorus is to miss the importance of their lyricism, melody, skill and message. This song has a deep sense of foreboding joy riddled throughout it’s every syllables, with meaning attached to every inflection mirrored by the effortless movement on stage. Lyrics mean nothing without the translation of the conjured message, something that comes second nature to Marcus Mumford as sweat drips while he whole heartily pours his lyrics across the crowd.
After a few songs including White Blank Page, Mumford take to the mic rather bizarrely to announce: “we tried playing a few quiet ones in Belfast last night. But Saturday night in Belfast, everyone was drunk. But sure we’re gonna try it here”. Not too sure what they thought was going to be different as the mixed crowd talked loudly throughout Timshel, clearly disrespecting any song that they haven’t heard played to death on “the radjo” – pity really.
Little Lion Man is as impressive, if not more so, than expected as 13,000’ish recite back the fast paced hit single. Lover of the Light and Thistle & Weeds showcase the bands multi-instrumental nature as all members switch instruments leaving Marcus on drums as he stumbles, quite frankly, through drumming and singing in unison. Then comes the embarrassing Holland Road where the sound man forgets to turn on any mic on stage. A vocal-less rendition of Holland Street continues unknown to all band members as they enjoy perfect sound in their ear-pieces on stage. Around 2 minutes into the song, the sound engineer remembers his job title and switches them on to sarcastic cheers from the crowd.
Support band Dawes accompany on stage for Awake My Soul before Roll Away Your Soul completes the duo of soul orientated numbers. Then comes the poorest run of songs on the night as the boring Whispers In The Dark and Dustbowl Dance play through to a hum of talking and discontent.
The guys leave the stage to return to a three-song encore. Lover’s Eyes bores before The Cave plays out to a wondrous reception and seems like the obvious close to a long and energetic set. However, the fun is just about to begin as support acts Dawes and Post War Years join forces for an unbelievable version of The Beatles classic With A Little Help From My Friends. 17 bodies masterfully blast out this special close to the show and cover the crowd in a wall of pure sound.
Mumford and Sons are more than pop radio fodder. They may inhabit a world of fans that think it cool to scream Ole Ole Ole in between every song and who give very little care for anything other than “the hits”, but what they do posses is a great knack for catchy folk tunes that very much represent the 21st century rather than acts of old. They are progressing new folk music singlehandedly and exposing it to a new audience. Mumford and Sons – we salute you.
Mumford and Sons Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost