My friends and I have been freaking out about this concert since we first heard about it – Well, we have been freaking out about the possibility of seeing Mumford and Sons since we first met each other. This freak out has included: desperately refreshing pre-sale sites in order to get tickets in class while pretending to take notes, calling each other frantically to figure things out, my friends winning tickets through the 9:30 Club promotion, me dancing in front of MUG when I finally got tickets, constantly texting each other Mumford lyrics the week prior to the concert…the list goes on and on.
I add this because this may not be the most unbiased review on the face of the planet. Even if the concert was terrible (which, it wasn’t), I would still probably have loved it because I would have still seen Mumford and Sons.
There were two opening acts, Haim and Ben Howard. The first was compiled of three sisters and a fellow drummer. Their set was relatively good and drew my attention more than some opening acts I have seen, but I could not be able to tell you how any of their songs went. Their voices went well together and they had a good beat, but they were opening for a band as big as Mumford and Sons and its always hard to keep that kind of crowd’s attention.
Ben Howard was slightly slower and brought the audience’s excitement down a little bit, which is not something I particularly find for what makes the best in an opening act. His music was very soothing and if I wanted something to drive to, I would surely listen to it, but I was pumped for Mumford and Sons and listening to something slow is not always the best choice right before a headliner with such intensity.
The venue itself was not the most ideal of venues for any concert. I have never liked the Patriot Center because it is out of the way, difficult to get to via public transportation, and the town nearby does not very effectively accommodate the traffic such a large venue creates. The interior is also a tad gaudy and the seats (when I was sitting in them) were fairly uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, as soon as Mumford and Sons came out, I forgot everything about that and was immediately brought into some magical music realm of English folk rock. Mumford and Sons’ sound is big; their music is meant for a stadium. Though I would love to see them in a more intimate setting like the 9:30 Club, it really could not encompass where Mumford and Sons is now in their career. They’ve grown too big for something like this and though I disapprove of the Patriot Center, they can certainly fill it.
Their set list was an excellent mix of material from their first and second albums. Artists this big sometimes use tours like these to promote their latest album but it is well aware that Mumford and Sons do not perform in order to sell CDs. Both new and old fans were able to sing along to songs they knew, and one could tell that the entire audience certainly was singing. The energy that Marcus and friends gave off throughout the entire performance radiated through every seat and through every soul. There was never a dull moment when they played their instruments flawlessly and when their harmonies mixed so perfectly that it became impossible to tell where one voice started and one ended.
Nevertheless, their audience interaction was a bit lacking. Mumford and Sons is known for lively performances, which they gave in spades, but they are also known for conversing with the audience. They only really started talking towards the end and breaks between songs were at first slightly awkward and relatively silent from the stage. It’s obvious that the band were very into the music, but it appeared that they may have been a little too into the music and might have disregarded the audience. Stadium concerts usually incorporate some huge “gimmicks” in order for those in the nose bleeds to see something. Mumford and Sons had plenty of lights throughout the stadium that used spectacularly in certain songs (especially in “Lover of the Light”). Other than that, there was little to watch, though I would watch them make tea for an hour because of the liveliness they emit.
However, the highlight of the evening was most assuredly their encore. For that, they pulled out all the stops, starting with them performing an acoustic version of their song “Sister” in the middle of the audience. Watching them try to quiet the audience so that they could experience such magic made up for their lack of interaction throughout the rest of the performance. And their cover of The Band‘s “The Weight”, which they had performed previously at the Grammy’s when they won best album, as their ender, was a true explosion of energy and art and beauty. They brought out both opening acts to play along with them and highlighted them in guitar and vocal solos, turning it into a true jam session.
Though the venue was not ideal and their audience interaction was slightly less than expected, this concert was one of the most intense and amazing performances I have been to. I had a huge exam the next morning that I woke up groggily to, my muscles aching from all the dancing, my throat sore from all the singing, but with a smile on my face knowing I had experienced one of those momentous occasions I will be telling my children about years from now.
-Johan Clarke is the host of Classically Modern, Tuesdays from 4 PM to 5PM on WGTB