Mumford & Sons Live in Vancouver – Photos, Words and mmmMarcus

Marcus Mumford is really quite handsome. For a Brit, he’s got a fair classic Americana matinee idol look about him. Which is probably why all the drunken suburbanites were gagging for his sweaty towel or shouting “TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS” and “Bro! I LOVE YOU” at Mumford & Sons’ October 23rd Vancouver show.

Sorry, I got distracted.

On to Mumford & Sons as a whole.

For those unfamiliar with the UK *cough* nufolk scene, M&S is, actually Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Ted Dwayne and banjo-pickin’ “Country” Winston Marshall. Their music is a folky, mainstreamy, singalongy, Irishy-though-they’re-English (think Frames, Waterboys or Canada’s Spirit of the West) rocky sort of thing blessed by Mumford’s earnest and decent workingman’s voice.

Their debut album Sigh No More, tweedy jackets, dust bowl look and enthusiastic performances propelled them to international attention and earned them (like Foals) a Mercury Prize nom this year. Sigh No More‘s a decent album, and Mumford are a decent band. To half of you. The other half of you seem to hate them.

To wit, some comments I have received from my friends when I mentioned the gig:

  • “Ugh, they are dullsville. Don’t get it at ALL!”
  • “In my opinion, folk should be left to Simon and Garfunkle and The Coral.”
  • “Love them! Seen them at the Eden Project.”
  • “fake-rustic, over-emotive, post-Arcade Fire shit”
  • “I can’t wait to see them next month. Love ’em!”
  • “Derivative barn dance nonsense”

And my favourite:

“Hey nonny nonny cack.”

So you’re divided. And so am I.

They’re great live. They really are. Even surrounded by utterly wankered, heckling middle-aged baldys and rabid, swooning little girls. “Little Lion Man” (“I really fucked it up this time, didn’t I?”)  was a barn dance stomper and that’s okay.

Their quiet tracks, like opener “Sigh No More” and special encore of “Sister” (it wasn’t originally even on the set list) are made with pieces of pretty.  “We’re going to do something special because we’ve had a really nice time tonight,” Ben said before the band huddled together to perform the song totally unplugged. It was…a nice reward for a nice time.

They also genuinely seemed to soak in the love of the crowd and gave it back. I cannot fault Mumford or his Sons for their niceness or ability to perform. I can fault them, however, for songs that tend to err on the side of samey and occasionally get too deedlydeedly. And is it a bad thing or a good thing when most songs wrap up in a gigantic singalong? Not sure.

Will Album Two fare any differently? Remains to be seen. New song “Lover of the Light” put Marcus Heartthrob behind the drumkit. Expect a slow-starter, with an edgier, furry timpani-mallet sound, that grows into a Kings of Leon-style anthem. Hmmm. Guarantee you Mumford will be shopped around the US by evil powers within the next year as much as those thick Followills were in the recent past. And one can only hope it doesn’t have the same effect.

So? Verdict? I’m gonna have to cop out.

I have built a white-picket fence and sorry, Mumford, but I’m sitting on it.\m/

MUMFORD & SONS October 23 Vancouver Set List:

  • Sigh No More
  • Roll Away Your Stone
  • Winter Winds
  • White Blank Page
  • Timshel
  • Nothing is Written
  • Gave You All
  • Little Lion Man
  • Lover of the Light (New)
  • Thistle & Weeds
  • After the Storm
  • Untitled New One
  • Awake My Soul
  • Dust Bowl
  • Sister
  • Whispers in the Dark
  • The Cave

One response to “Mumford & Sons Live in Vancouver – Photos, Words and mmmMarcus”

  1. Thanks Mikala,

    Really enjoying your reviews.

    On the subject of Mr. Mumford and his band specifically….

    You can cack ’em, or smack ’em, or sing-a-long with them all you want (or not).

    But one thing for sure….If you go back and look for some of the early stuff where Mr. Mumford is doing his thing with a then still pretty much unknown Laura Marling, it’s hard not to conclude that what they’re up to is mostly genuine.

    Which is something that all kinds of folks can get behind, from little kids to suburban tweens to old guys like me.

    (even if I’m not quite yet bald)


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