Four banjo playing men with a name like an antiques dealer hardly sounds like a recipe for global success yet Mumford & Sons have broken the mould. Since bursting onto the scene in 2007, they have managed to bag numerous awards, tour the world several times over and headline some of the biggest festivals in the world. It comes as no surprise then that the crowd expect something spectacular; luckily for the band, they didn’t disappoint.
Supporting the band is Jack Garratt , a man who himself is gradually becoming used to pressure having recently won Critics’ Choice Brit Award. Following on from winners such as Florence + The Machine and Sam Smith, it’s understandable that Garratt would be nervous to make his mark but he shows no signs as he swaggers on stage. His 45 minute set is filled with anthems such as Weathered and Breathe Life which fill the stadium and, although alone on stage, he rarely loses the audience’s attention thanks to his intense facial expressions and convulsion-like dance moves. There are occasional lulls in the mood; intros go on too long and a cover of Disclosure’s Latch goes down like a lead balloon. He shows promise though, justifying his postion as one to watch.
Half an hour later and it’s Mumford & Sons ‘ turn. The screams are deafening as the band immediately power into Snake Eyes from their most recent album, followed swiftly by I Will Wait, which causes a mass singalong of 12,000 people. The set list is expertly compiled, with the band following the rock-laced songs with slow burners such as Thistle And Weeds. The crowd are clearly in the hands of the band and they know it, only too happy to comply when Marcus Mumford tells them to “fuck the people behind you and get up and dance”. It’s clear to see how far Mumford has evolved as a frontman; his joking with the crowd and attitude on stage are a far cry from the man who began in 2007. He jumps into the crowd mid way through Ditmas, headbanging his way through the audience, swigging beer in between breaths before attempting to get back to stage. Also clear, is the evolution of the band’s musical direction, with the more rocky Wilder Winds intertwined with Sigh No More, although surprisingly the band rely heavily on the latter when it comes to enthusing the crowd. The cockiness the band has been instilled with due to their new found fame is evident with the placing of fan favourite The Cave so early on in the set but somehow it just works. The encore leaves a lot to be desired though; they take to a stage at the back of the arena, all four members huddled around the one microphone. It’s a brave decision but it doesn’t pay off. The intimacy of Timshel and Cold Arms don’t transcend to such an environment and the whole thing justs seems unnecessary. It’s a welcome relief when they move back to the main stage, blistering through another four songs, ending with The Wolf. The band are tired, the air is heavy and people are fainting, but there is no doubt that everyone would do it all over again. Don’t leave it so long next time Mumford.
Words by Clara Duffy