Mumford & Sons Keep Getting BiggerAugust 2nd, 2012
Mumford & Sons – Pier A Park – August 1, 2012
During the CMJ Music Marathon in October 2009, Mumford & Sons played Mercury Lounge and Music Hall of Williamsburg. It was still almost four months before their smash debut LP, Sigh No More, came out here, but the crowd already knew most of the words. And then as the album was ringing up accolades and awards a year after its U.S. release, the London four-piece lit up the Grammys with a lively performance of “The Cave” and an absolutely rollicking version of “Maggie’s Farm” alongside Dylan and the Avett Brothers.
From there, Mumford & Sons became road warriors and their popularity bloomed as they worked their way up to big stages at big festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella and Glastonbury. Along the way, they fleshed out and road-tested new material, which will come in the form of Babel in late September. With that comes a new tour, and while Mumford & Sons got their start playing the kind of instruments and music that are often heard while gathered round a fire, last night at Pier A Park in Hoboken, they did so for thousands assembled along the banks of the Hudson River.
As the remains of a lovely sunset lingered in front of the stage and the lights of Manhattan twinkled behind it, Mumford & Sons launched into “Lover’s Eyes,” a new one, and the crowd exulted. “We’re very happy to be playing our first ever gig in New Jersey,” said frontman Marcus Mumford. It was also the band’s first show of the tour, and they didn’t shy away from the new songs—playing “I Will Wait,” “Lover of the Light,” “Whispers in the Dark” and “Ghosts That We Knew” in addition to the opener—which sounded different than the first album’s tunes: bigger, more electrified and amplified (and a lot more drums).
Their previous time through, Mumford & Sons played Terminal 5, but last night they had no trouble riling up the big crowd in the large grassy venue with their increasingly bigger sound. Witness the scattered groups of people, arms aloft, jumping up and down together, lustily singing along to the likes of “Little Lion Man,” “Roll Away Your Stone” and “Dust Bowl Dance” at a volume usually reserved for alone time in the shower or a car. Mumford & Sons do things in a big way; so a four-song encore followed their set: “Winter Winds” on the heels of a horn-section instrumental “New York, New York,” fittingly on Sinatra Avenue in Hoboken. And then after Mumford professed his love for America and remarked on having come “a long way from the Mercury Lounge,” they closed with a terrific version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and “The Cave.” But, of course, it couldn’t end like that. We needed something bigger, and then fireworks, launched from the Hudson, lit up the sky. —R. Zizmor