It’s easy to understand why seasoned gig-goers tend to gush about the unforgettable night they saw now-famous band ‘X’ playing in a windowless basement venue to a few dozen hardcore fans.
In a couple of years’ time, there’s every chance The Pop Cop will be that irritating know-it-all, harping on about how we were there when MUMFORD & SONS had a genuine, tangible coming-of-age moment at Nice ‘n Sleazy on an autumnal Sunday evening. And it was beautiful.
In truth, the well-spoken London quartet are far too special to be judged alongside the next indie-rock hopefuls, but that’s essentially the market they find themselves in.
Frontman Marcus Mumford’s songs predominantly speak of insecurity, dreams and regrets, while the impeccable four-way vocal harmonies and banjo wouldn’t sound out of place on a rustic porch in the American Midwest, tumblers of whisky being clunked under the stars, crickets croaking in the distance.
Perhaps it’s because Mumford & Sons are such a relatively new proposition, but when they play their modern interpretation of bluegrass with the kind of honest enthusiasm they did at Sleazy’s, you can’t help but root for them.
Effectively, we’d be as well just printing the entire hour-long setlist to identify the highlights of this show. If recorded versions existed of all the songs they played we’d already be calling it the album of the year. Little Lion Man, White Blank Page, Awake My Soul, The Cave – to name but four – are every bit as spellbinding for their intelligence and wisdom as they are for the instant appeal of their melodies.
Marcus’ heroic determination to squeeze every ounce of effort out for his craft causes him to break the strings on two acoustic guitars by the time the band walk off to the sound of frenzied applause ringing in their ears. The Glasgow crowd demand more, which Mumford & Sons almost sheepishly return to the stage to provide, with the bassist confessing: “We’ve never really done an encore before.”
They better get used to it. A band as precious as Mumford & Sons won’t be a secret for much longer.