MUMFORD & Sons, the skiffle Coldplay, have beefed up their mannerly – and occasionally mannered – sound considerably on their most recent album, Wilder Mind, presumably in response to their arena-headlining status.
Mumford & Sons
As demonstrated by this show’s (relatively) storming set opener Snake Eyes, they are able to make a lot of noise out of relatively little.
This new, marginally rockier Mumfords required not one but two drumkits – one for Marcus Mumford himself, returning to his skin-bashing roots. Both kits were bashed like expensive biscuit tins, whipping up a mild maelstrom on Thistle & Weeds. But the mellow moments were also milked for impact. The “f***ing quiet” Ghosts That We Knew sounded considerably less quiet with 13,000 backing vocalists, while The Cave generated more heat than the mild material would naturally warrant.
However, the decorous, often rather precious proceedings were properly enlivened when Mumford opted for a random run through the vast crowd, slinging his arm around unsuspecting fans’ shoulders before ploughing his way back to the stage. It was a simple but effective gesture to shake up the show, as was the encore gambit to take the entire band through the audience and up to a small stage at the back of the hall for an intimate bluegrass session.
An encore cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire easily outshone any of their own songs but this seemed to count for little in the crowd as they were swept along by the final headlong dash of The Wolf.