Mumford & Sons - Oslo Hackney, London - 9 March 2015 - Secret(ish) Comeback Gig
There was a nervous fever amongst the lucky 370 people who got the tickets that sold out in less than a second. People were quietly excited and asking all sorts of questions about the band who’d said they were splitting up but actually were back within a whisper.
One of the main questions which I shouted to the band was “what’s happening with the banjos?” Ben and Marcus Mumford laughed. Winston, the former banjo player, gave a slit throat gesture then Mumford said it’s a good question actually. Either way we weren’t getting any answers tonight about the survival of the banjo in future gigs, as it turned out to be strictly electric night (50 years after Dylan went electric, and at the same time as fellow folkie Laura Marling has done the same. Coincidence?) and only new tracks. Marcus told us that this almost brand new band, with 2 new members, including former Cherbourg drummer, Chris Maas, were on show for the first time tonight, and we were his guinea pigs, and we felt lucky.
So the music, that’s why you’re reading this. In a word “mixed”. Mumford & Sons’ new electric guitars and synth and drums package felt a little bit like they had some new toys and they were trying every old and new trick in the book. Bits sounded 70s style, some more modern rock, some more experimental and atmospheric, at times even a bit cheesy. New single, Believe, even sounded a bit like the xx at the start. Having said all that, I’m sure the more laid back new songs will be slow burners and crowd pleasers.
Now I’ve put all the not so amazing stuff out the way, I can start doing what I do best and that is raving about Mumford & Sons!!! There were moments in some of the songs where I’ve never heard more uplifting total rock onslaughts. The euphoria was there in ways they could never reach with acoustic instruments. Mumford & Sons can make a noise. We knew that already from the mastery of Thistle and Weeds, and Dust Bowl Dance. There were times tonight they took that to another level. The very best moments were when they combined the awesome thrashing guitars, bass and drums, in with more classic Mumford harmonious anthems. Set closer Only Love is going to be one monumental singalong anthem. But I left wishing they’d done it more. And I kind of wished they would’ve gone a bit darker.
Ben thanked everyone for handing their phones in to make it a more personal face to face experience which helped make it feel like a very very special and historic night when Mumford & Sons announced to the world “We are not a folk band anymore.” Well, I said that, they didn’t actually announce it……