Star rating: * * *
Judging by the capacity crowd they have attracted, it looks like their crazy scheme worked – this five-piece, now based in Denver, have gone from local open-mic nights to Grammy nominations in the space of two years.
There is, however, a more plausible explanation for their rapid rise – let’s call it the “Mumfords’ equation”. Take a simple upbeat sentiment, give it a rousing singalong hookline, chuck on a bit of mandolin and, hey-ho, you get international hit Ho Hey, a Mumfords’ number sounding as inoffensive by any other name.
Like their London cousins, The Lumineers cater to that apparent yearning among today’s pop pickers for the “authentic” flavours of roots music, but it’s commercial chart fare all the same, and of a whimsical type which compared unfavourably with their Fleetwood Mac intro tape.
They made the most of what they did have to offer all the same, presiding over a student union hoedown of a performance. Frontman Wesley Schultz affected a bluesy tone, while birthday boy pianist Stelth Ulvang went hell-for-leather on the keys during I Ain’t Nobody’s Problem But My Own. Next, the pair went walkabout in the crowd for an unplugged rendition of Ho Hey, allowing for a subsequent return to the one song which had brought most of the audience to the party.
The intent to entertain was there, just not the content, although the slower numbers such as Dead Sea packed a little more emotional heft, like an indie band approximation of Bob Dylan.