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This past Monday, the beloved British folk band Mumford & Sons graced the Hollywood Bowl on a chilly evening. The sold-out crowd was devoted to belting out the heart- wrenching lyrics of each song while bundled in blankets underneath a clear night sky.
Formed in 2007, Mumford & Sons consists of four multi- instrumentalists: Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane. Their band was named not because they are actually related but because it invokes a sense of old- fashioned family business, and, of course, the tightness of their sound.
Widely known for their hit “Little Lion Man” from their album Sigh No More, the band became popular in the United States in 2010 and was nominated for Best Rock Song and Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards. Their LA concert featured songs from Sigh No More and their latest album that was released this September, Babel, which has become one of the fastest-selling albums of 2012.
The opening acts, The Apache Relay and Dirty Projectors, both sounded quite different from each other. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, The Apache Relay had a folk indie rock vibe that I enjoyed.
On the other hand, the Brooklyn, New York-based band Dirty Projectors had quite an interesting overall performance. Their set consisted of a shift between two female vocalists, Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle, who sang along to experimental rock, and male vocalist David Longstreth, whose voice inharmoniously clashed with the loud band in the background. The crowd grew antsy towards the end of their set in anticipation for Mumford & Sons to start.
Finally, the four talented musicians joined on the stage and were greeted by enthusiastic cheers from the audience.
“The first night was business, tonight is pleasure,” said Mumford as he began his second performance of the weekend at the Bowl.
The quartet reached incredible crescendos from their opening song “Babel” to the end of the show, and was also backed by a fiddler and a three-piece brass section. Immediately after their opening song, Mumford passionately broke into their newest single “I Will Wait,” accompanied by Marshall rocking out on the banjo. They performed nearly flawlessly throughout the show and their sound was much fuller than on their album.
Emotionally-evoking lyrics transformed the crowd in the Bowl during “Winter Winds,” as Mumford sang, “And my head told my heart, ‘Let love grow’ / But my heart told my head, ‘This time no.”’ Many songs brought tears to the eyes of loving fans who identify with Mumford’s lyrics of love and heartbreak.
Mumford alternated between playing songs from their old and new albums, both of which received equal praise from the crowd. The audience augmented the really emotional numbers (such as one of my favorite songs, “Awake My Soul”) by joining in with the harmony of the musicians. Touching lyrics emanated throughout the bowl: “And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know / My weakness I feel I must finally show.” Couples held one another and friends and family swayed to the passionate words of Mumford & Sons.
Despite the incredibly heartfelt slower songs that captured the audience, it was the banjo-heavy numbers that elevated the crowd the most. The show ended with an encore of one of their all-time classic songs, “The Cave,” and was followed by their final song, a cover of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
I absolutely loved their modern rendition of The Beatles, my all-time favorite band, and could not have imagined a better ending. The energy that Mumford can generate from a crowd is mesmerizing and they are an absolute treat to see live. If you haven’t given Mumford & Sons’ newest album, Babel, a listen I strongly encourage you to do so!
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of November 15, 2012’s print edition of the Nexus.