Mumford & Sons – Live
The Glee Club, 29/09/09
You could tell this was going to be a cool gig by the number of checked shirts on show. In fact you could count the people not wearing a checked shirt or cardigan, or at least sporting some attempt at faux-folk facial hair, on one hand.
Selling out a gig on a Tuesday night is no mean feat but the charmers of Mumford & Sons pulled it off and turned on the gratitude from the off. They certainly know how to win over a crowd, as if their delightfully accessible brand of roll-along melodic folk wasn’t enough, it was dressed up with an endearing mix of jokes, japes and questions, as well as the right mix of platitudes.
Declaring The Glee Club as one of their favourite venues in the world and calling this gig the biggest of their lives all helped of course but it was clear that ‘The Mumfords,’ as I don’t think anyone calls them, all just ‘proper musicians’ enjoying the ride.
And they certainly know what they are doing. The instrument swapping and miniscule moustache-sporting frontman Marcus Mumford’s ability to sing and keep perfect time on a kick drum while strumming away on the guitar was a show in itself, while banjo twiddler Winston Marshall’s fingerwork was mesmerising, even if his jokes were less so.
The real wow factor comes into it when they melt into their seamless harmonies, with the heavenly chorus of Awake My Soul a perfect example, along with the haunting a cappella layers of album title track Sigh No More perfect examples.
The darker undertones of Thistle and Leaves gave the band the chance to show off their dirtier rock influences, while the instantly recognisable breakthrough hit Little Lion Man drew whoops of recognition.
Mixing heart-wrenching moments of tender emotion, with bluegrass inspired stomps and moments of pop-folk perfection, this was a rollercoaster of a live show, with the Glee’s usual seats removed to allow for maximum audience foot-stomping.
Roll Away Your Stone has all the makings of an alt-folk anthem, with the band inviting the audience for a hoe-down, along to its ramshackle rockabilly rhythm. The sweeping drama and choir-like ending of the track perfectly encapsulated what was a truly unique show from one of the most genuinely captivating acts of the year.
Words by Sean O’Muir
Pictures by Sarah Lines