I’ll admit it. I completely missed the Mumford & Sons boat. The first time I ever heard any of their songs was Australia Day 2010 when ‘Little Lion Man’ was number 1 on triple j’s hottest 100. Give me a break; it was a bad music time for me.
I haven’t gained ground since then and have never independently listened to much of their music, so going to see the band live at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 18 October felt like a redemption moment for me.
There was a surprisingly large turnout to see first support act Willy Mason, whose performance was incredibly mature for his 27 years. Mason’s gravelly voice has the depth of a much older performer and even when it was just him and his guitar up on stage, the simplicity of his act was powerful and rich.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros followed up as the second support act with their usual on-stage love-fest. The band is more at home as a festival act, but they’re such a loveable group of malnourished carnies. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros definitely got the crowd juiced up for the main act, particularly when Marcus Mumford made a surprise appearance and joined them on stage for their last couple of tracks.
When Mumford & Sons finally came on stage in full, they opened with ‘Lover’s Eyes.’ Their kick-off was a bit average, but the band ratcheted it up with follow up track ‘Roll Away Your Stone,’ which set the level of intensity for the rest of the night. Mumford & Sons have an interesting combination of fast paced country songs and quieter, subtler folksy tracks. The blend worked well to maintain the audience’s attention.
Marcus Mumford himself is an enigmatic guy. He barely talked and kept a straight, unsmiling face throughout the entire night. Mumford’s stillness was noticeable surrounded by energetic performances from the rest of the band, and compelling when contrasted against his incredibly expressive vocals.
There was a girl standing behind me yelling “I love you Marcus” throughout the set, and that was pretty indicative of the fervent devotion from Mumford & Sons’ fan base. Maybe I’ve been to a few too many pretentious hipster gigs lately but I was surprised at the enthusiasm of the crowd, who cheered and sang along for the entirety of the band’s lengthy performance.
It was a strangely assembled set. By the half way mark, the band had already played both their biggest singles, ‘I Will Wait’ and ‘Little Lion Man.’ Maybe it worked well for the established fans, but Mumford & Sons lost me a few tracks after that and never got me back again.
Towards the end of the band’s second (and, I assumed, final) encore, I slipped out in an attempt to avoid the crowds. As I was leaving, I heard the band swinging into a third encore. Once again, I missed the boat. Sorry guys.
Photo by the AU review.