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Mumford & Sons - O2 Academy, Bristol - October 6th 2010 (Live Review)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 Written by Jon Stickler
Mumford & Sons - O2 Academy, Bristol - October 6th 2010 (Live Review)

The Mumford and Sons windswept-prairie, folk bandwagon continues to roll on strong though the UK, with the band playing the penultimate gig of their most recent UK tour last Wednesday evening at a packed O2 Academy in Bristol.

Blending the cream of the current “indie-folk” scene, Mumford's tour saw them hit the UK roads with sound-a-likes Matthew And The Atlas and Johnny Flynn in support. Warming up the banjo strings very nicely, the two support acts delivered a joyous foot-tappin' Americana performance to the early-door punters who were talking about the voice of Matthew And The Atlas' frontman Matthew Hegarty long after the final drum kick of Mumford and Sons' headline performance. Don’t be surprised to see this gang treading the stage boards as headliners next year.

Johnny Flynn is up next and he has brought an army of musicians with him. I think I counted five but there could have been more. With the stage looking like a busy instrument shop, the band, spread across a stage that strangely reminds me of some vintage front-room, play out a set that consists mainly of songs from their first album 'A Larum'. Playing the single 'Kentucky Pill', the punters, which have now amassed to a large crowd, are loving it. The hands are clapping and the pointed-shoes are stamping. Flynn and Co wind up a party atmosphere that The Pogues would envy.

ImageWith the crowd on a high, Mumford and Sons arrive on stage to some deafening cheers. Clad in the usual grandpa shirt and waistcoat combo, the cheers subside and the foursome slip into the soothing vocals of the introduction to 'Sign No More'. The ballad-come-footstomper track immediately sets the pace for the evening as it slowly builds up to tell us “man is a giddy thing” before all four members set themselves up in perpetual motion for the remainder of the set. I have never seen such enthusiastic playing of banjo and keys, both "Country" Winston Marshall and Ben Lovett are head-banging from the off!

With barely time to catch breath, Mumford & Sons are into 'Roll Away Your Stone' and the packed house is set wild again by the call to “SING!” by frontman Marcus Mumford. The thumping rendition receives a massive applause before Mumford introduces us to a waltz and we sway into 'Winter Winds'. The crowd begin the first noticeable sing-a-long of the night no we've all finally had time to catch our breath.

Slowing things down, its time for a few words from the band. Banjo-wielding “Country” Marshall is as chatty as ever while Marcus Mumford's entertains us with some charming banter about his mother. Next follows 'White Blank Page' and new song 'A Passing Tale'. The new track sees the band swap instruments like we would swap clothes as they play out the atmospheric new number on a stage washed with golden illumination. Warmly received by the crowd, the band seem genuinely happy with the response and reveal their gratitude for the fans being “so in love with the music”.

'Little Lion Man' is next on the anthem strewn set-list and everyone makes a noticeable effort to belt out the “f***** it up this time” lyric. Hoe-downs ensue while Ben Lovett shakes Maracas like a man possessed. New song 'Lover of the Light' is introduced as Mumford upgrades from kick-drum to drum kit and a brass section, in the form of four extra musicians, is crammed onto the stage. The track looks set to be a hit and receives a massive reception from fans.

The band roll through the album track-listing, huge applause followed by huge applause. An epic rendition of 'Thistle & Weeds' and 'After The Storm' follow with the upbeat 'Awake My Soul' giving fans another opportunity to swing each other around before the passionate set finisher of 'Dust Bowl Dance'.

A quick stage exit from the band fires up the slow clap from a hugely appreciative audience. Ask this lot to leave now?? No chance! Re-emerging a few minutes later, the band fire into 'Whispers in the Dark' followed by the song that reserves the biggest sing-a-long of the night, 'The Cave'. Mumford & Sons bring the house down with a roaring final performance before thanking their support and their fans.

The performance appears to have exceeded expectations as I see some younger fans actually in tears upon exiting the venue. Tears of joy I assume! Giving us two previews of what’s to come next from Mumford & Sons, 'A Passing Tale' and 'Lover of the Light' lead me to believe it wont be too long a wait before we're dusting down our waistcoats and boots for some more brand new material from Mumford & Sons.

Stereoboard Gig Rating: 8/10

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