Mumford and Sons have embarked on their second annual summer concert series, Gentleman of the Road. This year’s self-curated tour takes the band to their home turf in the United Kingdom, as well as to several American cities in August. Through these mini-festivals, the band’s goal is to “celebrate the local people, food and music.”
Locally-based vendors and businesses are invited to participate, offering regional foods and beverages. This year’s tour features new cities, new artists, and hand-chosen line-ups for each unique stopover.
Drawing over 60,000 fans from across the United Kingdom, Mumford’s Summer Stampede featured creatives such as Vampire Weekend, Ben Howard, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Haim and Bear’s Den.
London-based trio, Bear’s Den, opened the mini-festival with the title track from 2013’s release, Agape. Heartfelt lyrics, precise banjo-picking, and woven harmonies effortlessly highlighted their emotive nature as a driving force.
As the show continued, the humble trio stopped to express their gratitude. Lead singer Andrew Davie said, “This is a huge honor for us to be on such a big bill. This is surreal. Thank you all so much.”
While playing “Issac,” from their latest release, drummer Kevin Jones picked up the guitar to strum while maintaining a pulsing beat on the drums. Jones is not only a drummer, but also helps run the music label Communion that he co-founded with Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons.
As the set continues with fused drum beats, banjo strumming, and soaring harmonies, Bear’s Den proved themselves as a live band. Armed with a folk-driven sound and underlying bluesy vibes, this band has an Americana roots feel that is effortlessly classic.
Playing to a vast London crowd, the trio wailed and rocked out popular tracks “Forever,” “Don’t Save Me,” and “Falling” from their 2012 EP Forever.
When a voice from the crowd shouted, “Let’s go!” and bassist Este Haim replied, “Yeah? Yeah? Ok, lets go!” An all-out jam session began, complete with wild flying hair and purposeful body-flailing dance moves across the stage.
Three piece choral arrangements often rose above the instrumentals, creating melodic sounds, but the in-sync vocals are not all these sisters have to offer. Often grabbing drum sticks and adding more pulsating rhythms to their tracks, this trio is undeniably multi-instrumental.
“We’re three sisters in the front and one hot mister on the drums,” Este said, referring to drummer Dash Hutton. Weaving tight vocal harmonies with rocking instrumentals, this trio tore across the stage without any image of a traditional girl-band. They sang with prowess and attitude, further highlighting their grungy appearance of ripped shorts, long free-flowing locks and black motorcycle boots.
In a thunderous drum battle, the sisters proved they can not only sing, but also play in unison. Creating a pulsating wave of drum beats and flying hair, the Haim trio ended the show with a momentous and literal bang.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
With 13 members taking the stage to perform for a sold-out crowd in London’s Olympic Park, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros possess an energy that demands attention. This band is undoubtedly impressive, offering overflowing charisma and charm.
While playing crowd favorites like “Desert Song,” and “I Don’t Wanna Pray,” singers Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos danced and spun across the stage in unison. Often abandoning the stage, frontman Ebert sings half of the set amidst the crowd, serenading lucky bystanders while inducing screams and constant love professions.
The crowd roared as Ebert returned, standing on the barriers and asking them to hold him up. “Hold me, son! Use your strength. I know you have it,” he says. Fans suspended Ebert in the air as he wailed the lyrics of “Home” with heartfelt emotion.
The band members took turns flailing tambourines while bells, drums, the keys, accordions, guitars, trumpets, cello, and more eclectic instruments continue. Ebert even ran to the crowd with instruments, asking “Who wants to play with us?” The mix of unique instruments and non-stop grooving by Ebert and Castrinos truly showcased the band’s authenticity.
“What do you want to hear?” asked Ebert, after confessing to the audience that they haven’t made a set list. Screams rose from eager fans in the crowd.
Closing the show with “Truth,” Ebert towered above the crowd, swaying his body clothed in his signature white linen attire and moving his wildly unkempt mane in unison with the wind. It was a picturesque moment that could easily be mistaken for a concert of a previous generation.
After selling half a million copies of his debut album Every Kingdom and winning two Brit awards this year, Ben Howard remains a humble performer. Taking the stage wearing a ball cap and black tee-shirt, Howard sits to play his guitar in his lap – displaying no more huberous than a band playing at a local bar.
Even when playing to a crowd of 60,000 he manages to recreate the ambiance of a living room concert. As the set continues, his guitar-picking precision is readily apparent and impressive. A mix between soulfulness and angst, his vocals are raw and passionate. Armed with charming lyrics, Howard plays over half the set on an acoustic guitar, again proving his strumming skills.
Songs “Keep Your Head Up” and “Only Love” shine through as crowd-pleasing moments, consequently creating waves of people dancing in a field.
As he stands and takes off his ball cap, a girl in the crowd yells “I love your hair!” Another yells “Marry me! I love you!” Undeniably, Howard’s poetic lyrics and John Martyn sounding voice strike a nerve with many female fans.
The 26-year-old Devonshire native doesn’t address the crowd often, but Howard smiles from ear to ear throughout the entire set, simply allowing the music to speak for itself.
American rockers of Vampire Weekend opened their set with “Cousins” from 2010’s Contra. Playing on a stage decked-out with their signature flowered backdrop and large hanging mirror, the the four-piece played with a casual confidence.
The indie rockers crafted a mixed set list that seemed to please the vast crowd, singing hits like “Oxford Comma” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” from their debut album Vampire Weekend.
The audience also sang along to newly released songs as frontman Ezra Koenig smiled.
Mid-set, Koenig praised Mumford and Sons for hosting the event saying, “Thank you so much to Mumford and Sons. We’re so happy to be Gentleman of the Road.”
Closing with “Walcot” from debut album Vampire Weekend, Koening said to the audience, “Thank you so much for today, you guys. You’ve made us feel right at home.”
Mumford & Sons
Mumford and Sons played a 90 minute set to close their self-curated summer concert series. Coming straight from a headlining spot at Glastonbury, the band seemed undoubtedly energized and excited to play for a hometown crowd of eager fans. Keyboardist Ben Lovett asked, “Were any of you at Glastonbury last week? We had a really great time. It was a big deal to us but you guys are shitloads better than that!”
The band opened the show just as the sun began to set, singing the title track from 2012’s release Babel to a roaring crowd. Frontman Marcus Mumford thanked the audience, saying “It’s not about us, it’s about you. So thank you. We love you guys very much.”
Lovett went on to explain the significance of evening, saying, “This has been one of my favorite days of my whole life, hands down. Partially because of the bands that played today and thanks to you 60,000 beautiful London people.”
Playing several tracks from Babel and others from their debut album Little Lion Man, the band created a set list mixed with old and new. Before playing their 2012 hit single “I Will Wait,” Mumford urged the crowd to stir up some dust, asking, “Shall we have a dance together?”
After an energized, fiery performance of “Dust Bowl Dance”—Mumford knocked over several drums and Lovett pushed over his seat, standing mid-song to play the piano—the band exited the stage leaving the audience wanting more.
The band returned for an encore performance, kicking off with a hushed acoustic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” with all four crowded around a single microphone and accompanied only by Marcus Mumford’s acoustic guitar.
Gratitude was flowing as the night went on, as Lovett addressed the audience again. “We’re so so very grateful to all of you. It all started here in London and we’re so happy to be back.”
As the sun faded out of view and London’s skyline becomes dark, strings of hanging globe lights illuminated the entire park. Vampire Weekend, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Ben Howard, Haim and Bear’s Den returned to share the stage with Mumford and Sons, singing a rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” – the highlight of an eventful day of music-filled celebration.
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