Live review: Mumford & Sons @ ABC 1, Glasgow

I was tempted to write this MUMFORD & SONS review last night, immediately after coming home from the ABC. At the time, it felt like I had just bore witness to something genuinely extraordinary, an unimaginably euphoric 70 minutes of live music that only a band as grandiose as Arcade Fire could even dream of pulling off.

So I decided to sleep on it, take a day to let the events of the previous evening sink in and see if I felt any differently 24 hours later. Turns out I don’t. I’m still buzzing.

With Mumford & Sons’ entire UK tour having sold out months ago, just having a ticket for the first night of their 12-gig run was a privilege in itself. The four Londoners make a purposefully inconspicuous start, singing the a cappella harmonies of Sigh No More in near-total darkness, their glowing faces bathed in a serene candelight-effect strobe, before the song’s towering chorus and crash of kick-drum/banjo/double bass/guitar remind you that these guys have a devastating change of pace.

It’s a favoured trick that never fails to please a typically raucous Glasgow crowd and surely makes them destined to be the band for the festival season (and 2012 festival headliners by The Pop Cop’s calculations).
Although frontman Marcus Mumford claims to be nervous, the gusto with which they tackle Little Lion Man, Roll Away Your Stone and The Cave would make you wonder if the group had a pre-gig wager amongst themselves to see which could get the most frenzied reaction.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night is the quality of the three new songs they play. The first, which remains untitled for now, follows the classic Mumford & Sons folk-rock template, but it’s the second one, Lover Of The Light, which really stands out, with Marcus powering it from behind a drumkit. ‘Epic’ doesn’t even do it justice. It’s monumental and has a shift in tempo near the end that you’d never see coming (the live radio session version below bears little resemblance to its current form).

Banjo player Country Winston emerges for the encore sporting a bandage over his bloodied finger that sums up the sweat he put into Dust Bowl Dance, before Mumford & Sons end with old b-side The Banjolin Song and their third new song, Whispers In The Dark, which makes for a suitably blistering finale. On this evidence, album number two could even be even better than their debut. The future of the best live band in Britain is in safe hands then.

Mumford & Sons – The Banjolin Song


Mumford & Sons – Lover Of The Light (session)


March 16, Queens Hall, Edinburgh (sold out)
July 9-11, T in the Park, Balado (sold out)

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