Tag Archives: Marcus Mumford


Mumford & Sons Soar in Brooklyn

February 13th, 2013

Mumford & Sons – Barclays Center – February 12, 2013

(Photo: Joe Papeo)

Mumford & Sons began to break in the United States with a run of shows during the 2009 CMJ Music Marathon, including a memorably half-full show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. How little we all knew then. A few months later they appeared on our TVs at the Grammy Awards. Last night, in their second grand return to the borough in as many weeks, this time on the heels of their Grammy win for Album of the Year, the four-piece Mumford & Sons, the band that launched a thousand banjos, took the stage at a sold-out Barclays Center. As the curtain whipped away, the band launched into “Babel,” a song that bears at least nominal reference to the moment in Biblical history when man was unified and spoke a common language.

And it was in this temple of unity, the Barclays Center, the big tent of eminent domain and gentrification, microbrewed beers, suspenders and beards, that Mumford opened with a string of songs off their recent Grammy-winning album, Babel. After the band soared through the album’s title track, they moved on to “I Will Wait,” “Winter Winds,” a first-album favorite, and “Below My Feet.” It was equal parts elegy and ebullience as the general-admission floor alternated between silence and carbonated bouncing, and the sections near the rafters produced reverence and reverie. This, of course, marked the brilliance and mainstream appeal of Mumford: to package the unremembered kitsch and nostalgia of folk melodies with explosive, life-affirming moments of musical elevation. The quartet then switched between the collective, quiet appeal of “Timshel” and the unstoppable, “Little Lion Man,” which first launched this band into the hearts and minds of many of these assembled thousands.

The middle of the set was highlighted by “Lover of the Light,” which sounds a great deal like a sustainably raised, NPR-listening Dave Matthews Band song in its latter half, and comprised both elements of the somber and the celebratory—its final banjo line and lyrics transformed into the screaming marching orders. The main set closed with “Whispers in the Dark” and “Dust Bowl Dance,” the former a song with which the band closed their 2009 Music Hall performance. It was then unrecorded: “Something from the next album,” they said that night. But last night, things were in sharper focus, the benefit of time and perspective. “Whispers” was the second track off a hit album, its edict of “live while we’re young” repeated and screamed back from a basketball arena of adoring fans. It was about unity to be sure, a moment of mass collective experience before the band receded into the darkness of stage left and the empire built on a tower of four-part harmonies and emotive evocation. It wasn’t a night about prayer, a common complaint about the band, but it was about rebuilding the temple and speaking in one voice. —Geoff Nelson

Photo courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com


Mumford & Sons Keep Getting Bigger

August 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

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com