The Captain’s Rest, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, T in the Park 2009, King Tut’s, ABC, T in the Park 2010 and now the Academy. This, believe it or not, is the seventh time I’ve seen MUMFORD & SONS play in Scotland and part of me is dreading it.
The band’s vertical trajectory progress chart means their next stop will be the SECC, where sound quality and atmosphere is sacrificed for bigger paydays. I’ve also witnessed more mediocre gigs than good ones in the Academy, which usually fails to live up to the sweaty, no-nonsense, personal-space-invading thrills of the legendary Barrowland Ballroom – its slightly smaller rival.
Those fears are forgotten within seconds, though. Such is the level of anticipation that screams of boy-band proportions is the reaction to the stage lights going out for the Londoners’ arrival, and the crescendo only intensifies as the four-way vocal intro of Sigh No More fills the air.
When frontman Marcus Mumford’s first thump of his kick-drum lands 150 seconds later, it gets even more manic as bouncing fans thrust their fists towards the roof and the crowd’s impassioned singing threatens to envelop anything the group are able to make come out of the speakers.
In Mumford & Sons’ early touring days, banjo player Winston Marshall would regularly take centre stage with his irreverently comedic between-song banter, something which seemed to have been curtailed more recently. But as his bandmates pause to tune up their instruments he takes the opportunity to reminisce about his last visit to Glasgow when he asked a woman outside the ABC if she had a lighter: “I can’t offer you a lighter but I can offer you my vagina,” was her response, which Winston regales with probably just a little too much pride.
Even in the grips of such adulation – on and off the stage – the humility and lack of ego of the four guys can’t help but make you want to fight their corner, particularly in the face of the tediously predictable naysaying by snobby music critics as Mumford & Sons become a name known in ever more households.
When bands play their new songs it’s often a cue for audience members to take a detour to the bar or toilet, but not so with Mumford & Sons. Their show-stopping performances of tracks destined for album No.2 – Lover Of The Light, Whispers In The Dark, Nothing Is Written (although a version of it was a b-side to The Cave) and an as-yet untitled song with the lyrics “keep my eyes to serve, hands to learn” – is proof this lot are the best live act around. And that’s more than enough to ensure my Mumford & Sons obsession is going to last for a while yet.
Mumford & Sons – Nothing Is Written (live)
Ray Davies feat Mumford & Sons – Days/This Time Tomorrow