[Santa Barbara review] Words & Images by: L. Paul Mann
[Railroad Revival Tour] Images by: John Margaretten
Jump right to pics from the Railroad Revival Tour launch in Oakland here!
Mumford & Sons :: 04.18.11 :: Santa Barbara Bowl :: Santa Barbara, CA
Mumford & Sons came out of what the English music press has labeled the new West London folk scene, has been on a meteoric fast track to success since they formed in late 2007. Lead singer Marcus Mumford disputes the label of the folk scene, and the lumping of his band with other groups who sprang up in London around the same time like Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn. Mumford & Sons really is a mixture of influences, from American bluegrass, traditional folk sounds from the British Isles and modern rock, but what sets their electrifying music apart from countless others is their incredible penchant for glorious harmonies. The band really has more in common with harmonic rock legends like Crosby, Stills and Nash or Canada's Barenaked Ladies. But whatever you want to call their music, the sound has captured the imagination of countless fans and catapulted the band to international renown.
|Mumford & Sons by L. Paul Mann|
Their loyal fans, many of whom came from up and down the California coast and swarmed local hotel rooms on a normally quiet Monday night in April, arrived early. By the time opening act The Tallest Man On Earth appeared onstage, most in the sold out crowd had already found their seats. The Tallest Man On Earth is actually an oxymoron of a moniker for tiny Swedish singer and guitar player named Kristian Matsson. The little man with a big voice was a perfect opener for the harmonious Mumford & Sons. Sounding a bit like a young, Swedish version of Bob Dylan, the animated singer tore through a 30-minute set of catchy ballads. Much like all the members of the headline band, Matsson expresses an exuberant personality with exaggerated looks of joy often etched across his young smiling face. He played an assortment of folk inspired songs, with a strong voice and some masterful guitar strumming. His set included a cover of John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind,” a very Dylan-y “Love Is All,” an almost flamenco style song with some witty lyrics called “King of Pain,” and finally, with the help of guest singer Amanda Bergman, a harmonious “Thrown Right At Me.”
Mumford & Sons triumphantly appeared as a near-full moon rose out of the Pacific Ocean over the Santa Barbara skyline. They instantly had the adoring crowd in their control, leading them in a singing, dancing and clapping frenzy. The band - consisting of Marcus Mumford, (guitar, vocals, drums, mandolin), Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums), Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, dobro) and Ted Dwane (vocals, bass, drums, guitar) - seemed to be reveling in the moment of their success, unlike many of the new shoe gazing pop stars of late. The whole band laughed and smiled and bantered with the crowd between sets.
|Ben Lovett w/ Mumford Horns by L. Paul Mann|
Coming straight off of their April 16th performance on the main stage at the massive Coachella Music Festival, where Marcus had exclaimed to that crowd, “This was the biggest gig we have ever played,” the band seemed giddy with excitement. Unfortunately for Mumford fans at Coachella, the band was relegated to a 50-minute set, which actually ended up being only about 45 minutes due to technical issues that seemed to plague many of the acts on the main stage throughout the three day festival. The most infamous of these delays was the disastrous set by Cee Lo Green, who arrived late and had his mic turned off after only 20 minutes. But in Santa Barbara Mumford & Sons played a relatively marathon set, lasting nearly an hour and forty five minutes. Marcus exclaimed to the crowd, “This is the longest set we have ever played,” sending cheers erupting to the back of the Bowl, where fans were packed in, shoulder to shoulder to the very last row. With only one album, Sigh No More, released to date, the band played nearly every track before delving into new material from their forthcoming new recording. The newer material exhibited new, more intricate layers of sound than their earlier material. As band members constantly changed instruments and shared vocal duties, it seemed evident that the group has continued to innovative fresh new sounds over their short time together.
Mumford & Sons played a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's “Wagon Wheel” as part of an extended encore. Ben Lovett quipped near the end of their set, “The first time we played in California was in a Los Angeles café in front of about twenty people.” Then he added a moment later, beaming a huge toothy smile, “Same songs.”
Sigh No More, Roll Away Your Stone, Winter Winds, White Blank Page, Nothing Is Written (new song), Hopeless Wanderer (new song), Timshel, Little Lion Man, Lover of the Light (new song), Thistle & Weeds, After the Storm, Below My Feet (new song) , Awake My Soul, Dust Bowl Dance
Encore: Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show cover), Lover’s Eyes (new song), The Cave
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