Mumford and Sons @ TD Garden 2.5.13

by Andy Robinson (Journalism), published March 7th 2013

mumford1Anybody who was on the general admission floor, or even in the nosebleeds, of the TD Garden for Mumford and Sons’ U.S. tour kickoff performance can tell you what it was like to see the second British Invasion. Especially the ones who fainted.

Just a week before winning “Album of the Year” at the Grammys, the bluegrass/folk-rock band filled Boston’s biggest venue and tore through their 2012 sophomore album, Babel. The album itself plays like a live collection already, and to hear it physically live blows your eardrums out. But you don’t just endure it. Make no mistake, you enjoy it.

A massive red banner with the band’s signature “Gentlemen of the Road” symbol blocked the view of the stage once openers Ben Howard and The Felice Brothers wrapped up their performances. The banner waved back and forth above the first couple of rows of GA, giving the crowd a little peek into what was to come. It wasn’t long before security and crew held it back to hide whatever plans Mumford had in store for Boston.

After the first two bars of the opening song, “Babel,” the giant banner was sucked up into the ceiling, revealing the British superstars. The band carries their fiery spirit and holds it up high for everybody to see. It’s very contagious. Mumford and Sons are known for playing their hearts out and making no attempts to keep their cool on stage.

Their biggest single, “I Will Wait,” is a song about blossoming love found by going home and falling into the arms of “the one.” The relentless repetition of the chorus, “I will wait,” grew stronger and stronger with every roar from Mumford and the crowd. They threw this one out early on in the show and balanced the rest of the performance with new material and their classics. They played the hits, like “Little Lion Man,” “Roll Away Your Stone” and “White Blank Page.” Performances of “Below My Feet” and “Lover of the Light” were pure build-up songs that crashed down on the Garden with every thunderous jump.

Marcus Mumford exhibited a lot of energy onstage. He screamed and howled and flipped his hair until his sweat fused with the tears on his face. It was a mess of perspiration. Banjo player Winston Marshall was the sidekick with the dirty beard mystique. At times during the show, his body and banjo were conjoined at the pelvis, thrusting and moving in tune with the music. Ben Lovett, piano man, stayed in his little spot for most of the show. Aside from his fingers, he hardly moved at all. But then, about half way through the show, he went completely crazy and launched his tripod microphone into the equipment pit below him. He was really into the song I guess. Meanwhile, that classy string bassist Ted Dwane rocked out in his own little world.

The band disappeared after a 15 song set, and the encore was expected to start. Instead, like The Lumineers at the House of Blues the night before, they popped up in the middle of the GA floor to perform two slow songs: “Reminder” and “Sister,” an unreleased track that has been floating around shows and YouTube. This mini-show played like a cool-down period from the bombastic set. It was much a much-needed intermission. Already, three people around me had fainted and were whisked away by security.

The band came back to the main stage to close with “The Cave.”

The crowd went nuts, and the band made local fans’ hearts sink with pride when they gave a shout out to the venue of their first North American show: a little place called The International Community Church in Allston, Mass.

The band’s summer shows were announced in small towns across the Midwest and the West Coast just a few weeks ago. As expected, they sold out immediately. Tickets will go fast for the next New England round, so plan accordingly. Mumford and Sons continue to attract a huge fan base and international acclaim with their extra helpings of banjo and the spiritual undertones in their lyrics. But there is talk of them exploring different genres for their third album, including rap. Yes, rap. Good God, let’s hope they don’t folk it up.

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