Mumford & Sons’ return to Dublin is pretty triumphant, it must be said. Selling out two nights in the 3Arena, packed to the brim with dedicated and loving fans who are set to welcome the band back to what they describe as ‘a second home’.
One thing about tonight is that Mumford & Sons may as well be two different bands. Everything in Mumford & Sons’ show varies depending on whether they’re playing songs from ‘Sigh No More’, ‘Babel’ or most significantly, 2015’s ‘’Wilder Mind’. For songs from the latter album, imagine a weird mixture of the bland, middle of the road-ness of Coldplay, mixed with a heavier Kings of Leon sound; the result is a confusion which suggests a lack of identity for the band. It wouldn’t be a problem if Mumford & Sons were at least in some way original, but they’ve just gone from one predictability to another.
That being said, the inescapable talent of the band is impossible to ignore. This is evident when all four members take to the stage with just one guitar for Cold Arms, their harmonies and precision making for a truly beautiful moment. Moreover, Marcus Mumford’s mixture of roles which sees him take to the drums for a while, whilst continuing to sing, is pretty impressive. All four of them also play multiple instruments throughout the set, showcasing their undeniable musicianship and skill.
And maybe because of this, Mumford & Sons do put on a very good show (despite some awkward moments where it becomes clear that the crowd’s loyalties still lie with the first two albums). After all, The Cave is a song that actually merits the success it got for the band. In this setting in particular, the lyrics and the rhythm come across perfectly. Marcus Mumford is also a strong front man with a striking voice and the confidence to really work the stage.
All in all, Mumford & Sons are what they are. They may be pretty bland, middle of the road, all of their songs have the same form (slow to start, then build to some sort of a climax), but there’s something about their show that truly saves them from being completely disregarded. Some of their songs are incredibly catchy and well written, they all know how to put on a show and most importantly, both they and the crowd seem to be having a great time doing what they’re doing. If a band’s saving grace is their live show, that’s actually not a terrible thing. Mumford & Sons have definitely put on a show worth seeing and perhaps with a little bit of time, there will be a bit more an actual recognisable identity that will set them aside from the rest.