Published Nov 14, 2010Emerging from a UK scene that spawned fellow Americana devotees, Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn and others, Mumford & Sons have a taste for banjos, dust-bowl imagery and Steinbeck allusions. Given their London background — pretty far from the 1930s prairies — the associations are more than a little incongruent. Similarly, so was their Saturday night crowd.
Mumford & Sons write heart-on-their-sleeves, folk-inspired songs with a heavy heaping of earnestness. Naturally — or perhaps not — they drew a lager-swilling, jock-rock crew of fervent punters. While the confluence of disparate elements smacked of ingenuousness, it's hard to find fault with a deftly played banjo (Deliverance aside).
Inspiring roars with every first-pluck, the band ran through a sing-along set — the aforementioned lager didn't hurt — including rousing renditions of "White Blank Page," "Roll Away Stone" and "Little Lion Man." Playing a handful of new cuts, they showcased emerging — and, in light of the audience, more apropos — stadium apprehensions, downplaying mandolins in favour of spotlighted hi-hats.
Naturally, when things slowed, especially on melodramatic downers like "Timshel" and "Thistle and Weeds," the soused crowd took to pizza and patter. Thankfully, the slowdowns were only intermittent. Banjos and Americana returned in full flight for a highlight-filled closing, including The Last Waltz-indebted, Cadillac Sky-aided "Awake My Soul" and natural closer "The Cave."