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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
Mumford & Sons – Barclays Center – February 12, 2013
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 – 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
Next week Mumford & Sons play two sold-out shows at Terminal 5. But it’s not all bad news because The House List is giving away two tickets to the English quartet’s Monday show. Want to Grow a Pair? Then fill out the form below, listing your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Mumford & Sons, 11/15) and a brief message explaining why Monday is the best night to go out. Eddie Bruiser, who likes to go out on any night that ends in day, will notify the winner by Monday. Good luck.
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Macchiarelli | www.jennylow.com
Mumford & Sons play The Bowery Ballroom on Thursday. Great, right? Unfortunately, the show is sold out. But if you really want to see these English folk rockers, you’ve still got a chance because The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to Grow a Pair? Then just fill out the form below, listing your name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets for (Mumford & Sons, 2/18) and a brief message explaining your best bet to get past the February blahs. Eddie Bruiser, a bigger fan of spring than winter, will notify the winner by noon on Thursday. Good luck.
Deftly layering three-part harmonies over a mix of bluegrass, roots, rock and Americana, childhood friends Griffin Sherry (guitar and vocals), Max Davis (banjo and vocals) and Sean McCarthy (bass and vocals) formed the Ghost of Paul Revere six years ago in Buxton, Maine. Ever since, they’ve been winning over fans one show at a time with their fiery, foot-stomping holler-folk music, earning comparisons to Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers in the process. The band released their second full-length, Monarch (stream it below)—which deals with turning heartbreak into metamorphosis—last month. “The gift of Monarch lies in its honest simplicity. It appeals to the sunshine that lives in most of us and dares to try to brighten the gray skies that hold others hostage,” says American Blues Scene. “It succeeds in lifting up all those it reaches out to.” But be proactive: Reach out to the Ghost of Paul Revere (above, performing “Montreal”) yourself when they play Rough Trade NYC on Saturday night. Jersey rock quartet Wyland open the show.
Austin Bisnow (vocals and guitar), Zambricki Li (banjo, mandolin and fiddle) and Brian Zaghi (bass and guitar) formed the folk-revival outfit Magic Giant three years years ago in Los Angeles. Mixing acoustic instruments with electronics into a sort of folk-rave sound, the engaging trio has won over crowds with their hook-laden anthemic songs, inspiring sing-alongs wherever they play—their energetic live shows usually turning into a foot-stomping dance party, earning comparisons to Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers in the process. Magic Giant’s debut full-length, In the Wind (stream it below), dropped last month. “The band blends folk and pop in equal doses, creating killer harmonies, intriguing instrumental accompaniment, literally using any instrument they happen to find, including drums, banjo, trumpet, saxophone, harmonica, synthesizers, electric bass, cello, viola, violin, dobro, lap steel, mandolin and more,” says PopMatters. “Their sound is huge and features melodies that soar to majestic heights, and the way the album was created has a lot to do with that.” Making their way across America in support of the new tunes, Magic Giant (above, performing “Set on Fire” in studio for JBTV) headline The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. Local six-piece the Ludlow Thieves open the show.
Bear’s Den – The Bowery Ballroom – February 1, 2017
The British folk rock band Bear’s Den wrap gorgeous compositions with a searing banjo ribbon. It’s not a surprise that they supported fellow countrymen Mumford & Sons, as both share similar musical sensibilities. They’re also no strangers to road-tripping across America, having jumped in a Volkswagen Campervan to tour with Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Staves in 2014. In support of their sophomore release, Red Earth & Pouring Rain, the lads played to a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on a crisp Wednesday night. The balcony was overflowing with spectators, as folks could barely get on the floor. Although the evening featured songs from the recent release, special attention was paid to the faithful when the rarely sung and mostly back-cataloged “Sophie” was played acoustically as the audience came to a hauling silence.
Band leader Andrew Davie admitted it was likely their “second-oldest song,” and fans, new and old, were grateful. They erupted for “When You Break,” a favorite from Bear’s Den debut, Islands. A pause in the set carved time for guitarist Christof to make his traditional bottle-flip attempt. The suspense was thick as the water bottle flew in the air, and Davie bear-hugged his bandmate upon success before wailing the sea shanty “Auld Wives.” Christof strapped on the banjo for another favorite, “Above the Clouds of Pompeii,” as clapping hands and stomping feet revved up the band before they exited the stage.
There was little doubt they would not return for an encore, and they did with horn accompaniment for “Napoleon.” Davie, bassist Kevin Jones and Christof made their way into the crowd with only instruments on an acoustic rendition of “Gabriel.” Back onstage, Davie explained that throughout their tour they have been playing covers that were of local artists or about the city they were in. Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” checked off both those requirements. The evening wrapped up with the anthemic “Agape,” which was a fitting soundtrack to lead folks into the night and onto a new day. —Sharlene Chiu
The deck was stacked against her. The Best New Artist Grammy had never before been awarded to a jazz artist. Plus Bieber Fever was in full effect, and it wasn’t just Justin Bieber—all of the other nominees, Drake, Florence and the Machine and Mumford & Sons, were inarguably more famous than she. But nevertheless, 26-year-old Portland, Ore., native Esperanza Spalding strode up to the podium to collect her award in 2011. By that point, she’d already been playing music for more than 20 years. Spurred on by seeing Yo-Yo Ma play the cello on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood when she was just four, the precocious Spalding took up the violin when she was five. Not content with one instrument, she next conquered the oboe and clarinet before discovering the upright bass in high school. And if all of that weren’t enough, the talented performer began writing lyrics, and she could sing in English, Portuguese and Spanish. After spending time at Berklee College of Music, Spalding began touring in support of other musicians. And then upon graduation, she started teaching at the famed music school and recording her own albums. The third, Chamber Music Society (stream it below), caught people’s attention, eventually netting her that surprise Grammy. But it’s been her sixth studio full-length, Emily’s D+Evolution (stream it below), out last month, that’s returned Spalding (above, performing “Good Lava” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) to the spotlight, winning nearly universal praise. “Esperanza Spalding’s new recording, Emily’s D+Evolution, is an astonishing beauty, a set of a dozen songs that artfully and persuasively bridge genres. It is simultaneously the most forward work of the singer and bass player in the way it combines her musical influences with coherent and powerful lyrics and a project that feels rooted in a 1970s sensibility—reminding us of a time when pop, soul, jazz, rock, and singer-songwriter tradition were in constant dialogue,” according to PopMatters. “Because Spalding’s individual strengths as a fleet singer and superb instrumentalist are so perfectly set in these songs, they do not sound like throwbacks, however. Emily’s D+Evolution is a recording only Spalding could have made, and it shouts with invention, confidence and style.” Currently working her way down the East Coast, Spalding plays the world-famous Apollo Theater tomorrow night.
With their wide range of instruments, layered harmonies and energetic live performances, the folk ensemble Seryn, founded in a college town in North Texas in 2010, makes the kind of winning Americana-tinged pop music that has won them comparisons to the likes of Mumford & Sons and the Low Anthem. Last year Trenton Wheeler (vocals and ukulele), Nathan Allen (guitar and vocals), Aaron Stoner (bass and vocals), Jenny Moscoso (vocals, guitar and banjo), Jordan Rochefort (drums) and Scarlett Deering (violin and vocals) left small-town Denton, Texas, for Music City—Nashville—for better opportunities. And earlier this year, Seryn (above, doing “Disappear”) released their second full-length, Shadow Shows (stream it below). And Paste magazine weighed in: “Distilling Shadow Shows to its simplest folk pop form doesn’t represent the album fully. Rather, Seryn returns with a conceptual record that requires more than a cursory listen to appreciate its sonic nuances and musical juxtapositions.” The six-piece lands in New York City for two shows this week, alongside Corey James Bost and Great Caesar, tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge and with Conveyor and Bost again on Friday at Rough Trade NYC.
Peter Liddle (guitar and vocals) began Dry the River as a solo project. But wanting a bigger sound, he invited Will Harvey (violin and keys)—who has since left the band—Scott Miller (bass and vocals), Matt Taylor (guitar, keys and vocals) and Jon Warren (drums and percussion) to join him in making what he calls “folkie gospel music played by a post-punk band.” Early appearances at Glastonbury and SXSW earned Dry the River (above, doing “Alarms in the Heart” for Amazing Radio) comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons. Their second full-length, Alarms in the Heart (stream it below), came out last year, winning over critics and fans alike in the process. According to AllMusic, the album offers “ten lush slabs of audio finery that blend the bucolic art-pop of Stornoway with the ceiling-peeling arena rock of the Killers” and it “always feels like it’s coming directly from the heart, even as it’s set to explode.” The London four-piece kicks off a new U.S. tour on Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Oklahoma City five-piece Horse Thief and local quartet Regret the Hour open the show.
Dave Simonett (vocals and gutar), Erik Berry (mandolin), Dave Carroll (banjo and vocals), Tim Saxhaug (bass and vocals) and Ryan Young (fiddle and vocals) have been putting a modern, thrashing, turned-up twist on bluegrass music, as Trampled by Turtles, for more than a decade. And like the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, this Duluth, Minn., five-piece employs folkie and Americana instruments—plus layered harmonies—to get their point across, sometimes doing it a little bit louder. They released their first album, Songs from a Ghost Town (stream it below), in 2004, and Trampled by Turtles (above, playing “Are You Behind the Shining Star” on Late Show with David Letterman) have been steadily playing high-energy live shows ever since. Their seventh LP, Wild Animals (stream it below), out this past July, finds them in as fine form as ever. AllMusic says, “On their seventh long-player, Duluth’s acoustic troubadours Trampled by Turtles continue to push the outer limits of folk and bluegrass playing light against darkness, delivering one of their most thoughtful and downtempo albums to date.” Currently crisscrossing North America, their tour brings them to Terminal 5 tomorrow night.