EVERY generation appears to need a band like Mumford and Sons; one that gathers universal attention, even though the reactions to them are split more or less evenly between heartfelt love and raging dislike.
Coldplay, Travis and U2 have all been there in the past, and perhaps the Mumfords’ day is already done, with Ed Sheeran adopting the mantle and the group’s new record Delta receiving decidedly mixed reviews for its new direction into subdued electronics.
Yet they appear to not be going down without a fight, and this was an arena show of mighty and intriguing proportions, the kind a band with an eye on stadiums might offer.
The construction in the middle of the hall was not one stage but three, a massive boat-like construction with a raised prow and stern at either end; one platform in the centre with full band equipment; a smaller raised stage at one end with an acoustic set-up for more subdued tracks like Ghosts That We Knew and White Blank Page; and a third platform where the four bandmates gathered during the encore for a four-part a capella harmony on Timshel and Sister. The tropes of such a show were all there, from Marcus Mumford’s walkabout in the crowd during Ditmas, to his game misunderstanding of the football match occurring simultaneously (“So Scotland are in the Euros? Brilliant!”), to the impressive moving lighting rig and the spray of flamethrower sparks bathing Darkness Visible.
Whether the new record yields any tracks as enduring as I Will Wait and Lover of the Light remains to be seen, but at the moment the Mumfords’ repertoire is still worthy of a show with this amount of good-natured swagger.- DAVID POLLOCK