First, I have to apologize if I get carried away in this post and it gets obnoxious, but just know it’s a symptom of my enthusiasm and not a desire to come off as super “braggy.” Thanks!
If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you may have noticed that I am a huge Mumford & Sons fan. In 2013, I did something I have never done before – seen a band multiple times at several locations. M&S made it easy to do that because before the release of their first record, Sigh No More, until a year after their Grammy winning second album, Babel, was released they were practically on a non-stop tour. While I liked their music from both albums, it took seeing them live in February 2013 to really solidify my admiration.
With two shows near Washington D.C., one in Arizona, and one in Toronto under my belt, I didn’t want to get off the Mumford train. After the group announced an indefinite hiatus from touring in September 2013, I’ve been scrambling to figure out how to get my fix in their absence. I’ve found new bands that I love in the folk/bluegrass/americana space, including Punch Brothers and The Milk Carton Kids, and have grown my appreciation for the bluegrass experience in general. I was also fortunate to see Marcus Mumford perform live, solo and with other artists, at the Another Day, Another Time concert to celebrate the music of the Coen brothers’ movie “Inside Llewyn Davis” in September 2013, that later aired on Showtime in November 2013. Then there were the songs Marcus wrote for The New Basement Tapes to accompany old Bob Dylan lyrics, but nothing could substitute for more original Mumford & Sons songs.
Fortunately, in February they not only announced a new album but plans for joining major festivals, in addition to Bonnaroo already announced in January, and holding four of their own Gentleman of the Road Stopovers. I’ve never been to a GOTR stopover, so I’m looking forward to going to the one in Seaside Heights in June.
M&S also announced last week that they are going on a short North American tour in June and August in between festivals and stopovers. Yep, I was online and ready to buy some tickets for the show near Baltimore as soon as they went on sale! I’m really excited for that show, especially, because my friend is coming with me to see them for the first time.
And while I wasn’t super impressed with the first released song, “Believe”, because it reminded me too much of Coldplay, I am loving the second song, “The Wolf,” that was recently released off their new album.
Of course, I was even more hyped when I was one of the lucky few to get a ticket to one of the band’s secret rehearsal gigs this month. They’ve been playing shows in several cities to audiences of less than 1000 fans, announcing the event the day of or day before over Instagram or Facebook. Following my luck of getting a ticket in the first place (seriously, what are the odds?), I was able to go to this show with another huge fan I met through a fansite who was amazing and who volunteered to wait in line for two hours before the doors opened so that we would be right in front of the stage.
To prevent leaks of the music before the album is released in May, the band required you to check your phones and any recording devices, but you got a souvenir bag as a gift for any inconvenience. And, I will admit, it was weird to not have the ability to take photos considering how much I love photography. But, at the same time, it was refreshing to just have a single focus, listen to and enjoy the unfamiliar music, and watch the band as they played the new songs while remembering how to do stage banter, adapting to not having a kick drum (Marcus’ right foot looked a little lost), and minding the long cords plugging their (new to them) vintage electric instruments into the amplifiers.
The set list included no songs from Sigh No More or Babel. It was 11 of the 12 songs from the new album, Wilder Mind:
- Snake Eyes
- Wilder Mind
- Just Smoke
- Broad-Shouldered Beasts
- The Wolf
- Tompkins Square Park
- Hot Gates
- Only Love
The set, itself, was over in about an hour as one would expect from an album listening gig. Of the 11 songs, there were maybe half that I really liked on first listen, including “Wilder Mind”, “The Wolf”, “Ditmas”, and “Only Love”. In fact, the “Only Love” encore started out just like a traditional Mumford encore with a soft, multi-part harmony section, but then surprised you with a loud, rocking end. Everyone I talked to loved that song a lot. And though the sound is a departure from their “O, Brother Where Art Thou” inspired roots, you can still hear the classic Mumford sound — primarily through Marcus’ distinguishable vocal stylings — even with the heavier instruments, louder drums, and faster beats. I can’t wait for the new album, the stopover, the outdoor concert, and (what I predict) additional announcements of tour stops around the U.S. into the fall months!
And while my phone was checked, I was fortunate to be next to someone who was sneaker than I dared to be who grabbed a few shots of the band on stage to capture the memories from the night. She couldn’t see what she was taking, so they are mostly of Marcus who was right in front of us, and they are surprisingly good quality considering.
Sorry again for probably coming off as bragging. Hopefully, you’re a fan too and understand how I can get so crazy for these guys! And if you’re not a fan, try the new album out, and you may change your tune…