Mumford & Sons – Forest Hills Stadium – August 28, 2013
Clouds sat heavily over Forest Hills Stadium last night as thousands of concertgoers filled the seats and standing room of the historic venue to see Mumford & Sons, the Vaccines and Bear’s Den for the venue’s first concert since 1997. We couldn’t have cared less about the raindrops falling throughout the night, as this inaugural show since the stadium’s reopening was going down in music history. Excitedly, the crowd settled in for lively sets from Bear’s Den and the Vaccines. “I can’t tell you how excited we are to be here,” said Vaccines frontman Justin Young, beaming between songs. Highlights from their set included “Blow It Up,” “Wetsuit,” “All in White” and “I Always Knew.”
As night fell, the crowd jockeyed for the best possible stage view. It seemed as if not a single seat or patch of standing room was empty. Fog filled the stage and the lights dimmed as we heard Mumford & Sons tuning in the dark. Uproarious applause and cheering ensued as the lights came up on the band playing “Lovers’ Eyes,” followed by “Babel.” Marcus Mumford greeted the sold-out stadium: “We just can’t believe you all came—17,000 people on a tennis court? That hasn’t happened for a long time!” The set moved along swiftly, and additional string and brass instruments joined the mix to create an orchestral vibrancy that escalated Mumford & Sons’ anthemic music.
“We’re going to play a song that’s extremely inappropriate considering the humidity,” said Mumford with a chuckle before the band played “Winter Winds.” The foggy low light suited the band well during their subdued numbers, and gleaming spotlights electrified the up-tempo moments. “Timshel,” “Little Lion Man” and “Hopeless Wanderer” had the crowd singing along, entranced. For their encore, the band covered Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” which had many singing along. Mumford & Sons took a break between songs to hit some tennis balls into the crowd using their instruments as tennis racquets. Paying tribute to their initial success, the band played closed the show with “The Cave” and bid the audience a cheerful adieu, cheering on the team that worked so hard to restore the stadium. Judging by the success of last night’s show, Forest Hills Stadium will be home to more sold-out shows in the years to come and reclaim its reputation as a famed music venue. —Schuyler Rooth