9/11/2013 Mumford and Sons at Charter Amphitheater
Rupert and David tag teamed this review
Emails to secure tickets to Mumford and Sons 9/11/2013 show at Charter Amphitheater in Simpsonville, SC went out in July this year. I know not because I was on the list to receive the ticket reservation email, but because my cousin got it while we were at the beach on vacation. The unique system worked, as 14,000 people packed into the outdoor, standing room only amphitheater outside of Greenville on a Tuesday night. They would make the most out of their first ever South Carolina show, and the last show of their month long tour with Gil Landry, Bears Den, and The Vaccines.
They said it felt like they had been on tour for six years and were taking some time off after this tour to go home and see friends and family. Since the band formed in December of 2007, they’ve been on the road non stop supporting their first two albums, and the worldwide fame that came with them. From an underground folk band in England, to a band playing basement shows in Nashville, to seemingly the next day selling out two straight nights at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville with their first album, their rise has been quick and steady. Even before that frontman Marcus Mumford toured with London folkster Laura Marling. During the show Tuesday night he still uses his drum chops, switching from guitar to drums for several songs, playing all out while singing at the same time.
Mumford and Sons started their set out on a dark stage before the lights came up and the crowd went wild. The show is a huge production, with the 4 band leaders out front and host of back up performers on giant stages at the back including keys, a couple of fiddles, and occasionally the guest performer including Mike Harris of The Apache Relay. We’ve been long time fans of The Apache Relay so seeing him on stage was a treat. I knew they had a history together going back to basement shows in Nashville, but when he came on stage I texted my friend and she said she thinks they picked him up in Birmingham. Harris was a guest performer with both The Vaccines and Mumford and Sons contributing some fine guitar work to both sets.
One thing that I can’t emphasize enough is the amount of energy they put into their live show, and the energy that the crowd gave back. During their last song before the encore they pretty much destroyed the stage, smashing banjos, destroying drums kits and exiting the stage. The crowd went wild, and no one left. We all knew the encore was coming, and it was more of a short intermission as they came back out to play 5 more songs.
I was at a panel on touring last week and one of the writers for Pitchfork was talking about how hard life is on the road and even wondering if it was always fair to judge a band on a live show, especially on the last dates of a long tour when everyone is all but spent. Mumford and Sons seemed to give it every last bit of energy they had, even mentioning how hard it is to connect with the crowd at large shows like this, and thanking them for their energy as it was what they were feeding off. And as rabid as the crowd was they listened, when Marcus Mumford told them to be quiet for the first two songs of the encore you could have heard a pin drop after a couple of guys got their WOOOOS in and their voices heard. It was kind of incredible how quiet they made 14,000 people. Well, 13,999 because the girl beside me was crying, and sniffling with pure happiness. When Mumford said jump, everyone jumped and the place was alive.
After gathering around one mic for the first two songs of their encore they brought everyone on tour in every band on stage for a cover of The Beatles “Come Together”. Marcus had the first and the fourth verse, while Bears Den and The Vaccines filled in the middle two. I was a little shocked when the crowd went into the chorus after the first verse….THERE ARE TWO VERSES BEFORE THE CHORUS, but they quickly corrected themselves. Mumford and Sons closed the night with one of their biggest songs to date “The Cave” and the place went crazy once again, bouncing up and down.
In the past few years I’ve become a huge fan of bands that sing about ghosts. It’s a bit morbid, I guess, but some of my favorite artists, including The Head & The Heart and Sufjan Stevens, have fantastic songs written about the souls of dead people that haunt the earth. Maybe it’s because I am secretly hoping that I am going to be a ghost once I pass away, or maybe I just watched Casper The Friendly Ghost too much when I was young, but I’m a sucker for ghost songs. This is the only reason why I enjoyed the Mumford & Sons show in Simpsonville last night.
That’s such a lie. I loved every single moment of the show, no matter the content of the song. This was my 3rd time seeing Marcus Mumford and his wonderful sons after seeing them at Glastonbury 3 years ago then in Berlin earlier this year. I have no idea how but this band gets better live every time I see them. I’m sure if I went to their show in Florida tonight they would probably be even better than they were yesterday. Someone told me last night that Mumford released their first album in order to promote their live show. I could not tell you if this is true or not but it would sure make sense. They have not only got the power, energy, and gusto to perform an incredible show for at least 14,000 screaming fans, they also know how to pick their openers. Bear’s Den, a band featuring one of the co-founders of Communion Records (the UK home of Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe, and Ben Howard), opened the show, bringing their bearded harmonies, and dirty folk-rock in full force. I would highly recommend you listen to their song Pompeii and read the lyrics while you do so. Keep in mind I’m a very strong, manly guy who would never let my tear ducts take control of me, but I almost did when I first heard this tune.
UK-band The Vaccines took to the stage next, with both a Polish and French flag hanging behind them on stage. I asked Pedro why he thinks they have these flags and he said “because it’s irrelevant, and irrelevant is cool.” While I’m not completely sure this makes sense, I like that quote so that’s the reason I tossed it in there. Get over it. The Vaccines were pretty good, but by the end of the set I think that the crowd was eager to take Mumford & Sons into their comforting arms. It would probably have been a better experience to see The Vaccines in a headlining show where they did not have to play before the behemoths that are Mumford & Sons.
When the incredibly popular London folk band touched the stage, the crowd exploded, literally. Marcus Mumford strolled onto the darkly-lit stage with a cigarette burning in his mouth (the same mouth that would make grown men cry only a few minutes later) with no evidence of him being there other than the red glow of the flaming end of the cig. They started off with “Lover’s Eyes” and kept the lights off for most of the song. When the lights finally blasted the crowd, everyone watching screamed their heads off and the show began. What I don’t understand is how they look so haggard but so beautiful at the same time. For me, those two words do not go hand in hand. I either look pristine and beautiful (most of the time) or haggard (most of the time). Anyways, their second song was “Little Lion Man”, a bold move considering that is sort of their most popular song. I think they did it for a couple reasons. First, to start off the set with a bang. Second, to prove that they are more than just the “Little Lion Man” band. And third, because they’re probably sick and tired of that song (setlist.fm says they’ve played that song at least 250 times, not including undocumented and TV performances). The rest of the set was a crazy adventure through Mumford & Sons’ fantastic catalogue with high points throughout the whole night. Of course I loved “Ghosts That We Knew”, but I think that my favorite part was the dark-red rendition of “Thistle and Weeds”, creating a dark, powerful atmosphere that could be more comfortable as the theme song to the film Insidious or something along those lines. Their final song before the encore was Dust Bowl Dance, during which one of the member’s guitars wasn’t working so obviously, in typical rock-star-I-just-got-kicked-out-of-a-strip-club-last-night (see) fashion, he smashed the guitar in half on this song and proceeded to join Marcus Mumford on the drums and destroy those as well. Classic.
I have always heard about the whole after the encore, bring all the bands on stage to perform a song, part of their show, but I’ve never witnessed it in real life. They brought the members of The Vaccines and Bear’s Den to perform a rendition of Come Together with the three lead singers switching off on the verses and it was pretty fucking wild. When Mumford & Sons blew up this year and started to be the headliners for every major festival and headline every city in the world I was rather skeptical about this as my first taste of their live show was good, but not headliner good. However, after seeing them twice this year, I can safely say that this band are going to be blowing up the world for years to come and I will keep going to their shows. All I’m hoping for is them to have 2 Chainz open for them for some reason and bring him on for a verse of Come Together. Please?