British folk rock sensation and multiple grammy-award winning Mumford & Sons brought their "Gentlemen of the Road" tour to Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park on Tuesday evening and played to a sell-out crowd.
This is the third time Mumford & Sons have played in Atlanta. In 2010 they played the Buckhead Theatre. Then, after winning several Billboard Music Awards in 2011 they returned and played the Fox to a bigger crowd. Now, fresh on the heels of their success at the Grammy's they came back to Georgia and, on Tuesday night, played Centennial Olympic Park to a sell-out crowd of reportedly more than 22,000 with the Atlanta skyline as a backdrop.
Times change and the venues they are playing here are testimony to their rapid rise to the top of the popular music charts. With their distinctive sound dominated by acoustic guitar, banjo and double bass and evoking the memories of many american folk artists especially with their vocal harmonies, the British band have made a musical home for themselves here in the United States regularly playing to sold out crowd wherever their tour stops.
What is refreshing about their rapid rise is the fact that Mumford & Sons have produced only two studio albums which means that, in a live set that lasts more than an hour and half, you're going to hear some pretty deep album cuts that you wouldn't hear if their catalog and their list of commercial hits was that much bigger.
Opening the set in near darkness with “Lover’s Eyes”, Marcus Mumford sung alone before the rest of the band joined in to harmonize and the lights came up. This structure was repeated throughout the set; a low solitary voice or instrument introducing the song before everyone helps build it to a crescendo. The version of "Lover of the Light" was wonderful, rising and falling and taking the crowd right along with it.
Confident of their musical presence they buried their biggest commercial hit "I Will Wait" in the midst of the set and surrounded it with some lesser-known tracks off both the first and second albums. The strategy paid off magnificently as the crowd were carried along.
While the band’s distinctiveness owes much to the banjo of Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane’s double bass it is Marcus Mumford whose vocals provide the glue that holds it all together. His style, that sounds like Dave Matthews at times and like Brett Dennen at others, provides the perfect focal point to the music, rising and falling as the emotion of the song dictates.
Thus the energy of the set rose and fell with the tempo of the songs they were playing and with Mumford’s vocals but built really nicely to a brilliant climax at the end of the set around "Roll Away The Stone" and "Dust Bowl Dance" at the end of the set.
The other refreshing element of their rapid rise in the music business is their genuine and sincere stage presence. Not only do they complement each other musically it’s obvious they enjoy each other’s company on stage.
Furthermore, it’s readily apparent they are still genuinely appreciative of their fans. Several times throughout the night band members would comment about the crowd, the venue, or the atmosphere and have a genuine sense of gratitude for the energy the crowd provided.
Coming back on for a three-song encore, the band were joined by the support bands, Bear's Den and The Vaccines, for a cover of "Come Together", the 40 year old Beatles hit. It was a faithful rendition of the anthem that carried much of the same energy as the original to ensure the crowd were really involved and singing on the chorus. Following that with a great live version of "Babel" and then finishing off with "The Cave" Mumford & Sons hit all the high points and made sure everyone had heard their major commercial successes but also many of the other tracks from their two albums.
Little Lion Man
Whispers In The Dark
Below My Feet
White Blank Page
I Will Wait
Lover of the Light
Thistle and Weeds
Ghosts That We Knew
Awake My Soul
Roll Away Your Stone
Dust Bowl Dance
Come Together (Beatles cover)