Mumford and Sons - Matt & Phreds
Live Review

Mumford and Sons – Matt & Phreds, Manchester

It was a night where the Manchester rain proved not to be a stereotype, but those brave enough to wrestle with the elements, not to mention their brollies, were rewarded with a night of fine music that the acts themselves didn’t want to end.

With outer garments disrobed, the audience settled down to Davie Fiddle and the Lucky Egg. Their performance was more than noteworthy; so much so that certain members of the audience thought this band were the top of the bill. More research next time, please. But it isn’t a surprise that some believed it to be true. The recorded Davie Fiddle and the Lucky Egg does not do them justice; live they sounded much stronger and as a collective commanded the stage with a greater presence than you see from much more well-established bands.

When Mumford and Sons arrived on stage, there were no fanfares, no embellished introductions, just a simple ‘hello, we are Mumford and Sons and we’d like to play you some songs’. The audience, seemingly made up of established fans who knew what to expect and complete novices escaping the rain, all rallied together to hush some noisy folk at the bar. It was then you knew Mumford and Sons were not going to be some background noise.

Lead singer Marcus Mumford’s voice is unique; you are surprised by the strength of it and hardly ever did it falter on the emotion-fuelled lyrics in the set list.
Second track of the night, a surprise placing at the time, was ‘White Blank Page’, a track taken from the band’s EP ‘Lend Me Your Eyes’, is hauntingly beautiful on record and surpassed that live.

One of the tracks was introduced as ‘more slow and tender – a bit boring really’. Needless to say, it wasn’t, and overall the pace of the gig was spot on; a cracking mix of heartbreaking emotion and full-on hillybilly medleys.

As the set continued, there was a tendency in parts to fix your eyes onto Marcus Mumford, but when it mattered, that is when each track was reaching its peak, the band were each given their turn, until eventually all you could see was Mumford and Sons as a unit; even their individual contorted faces when they were really going for it only added to the intensity of the evening!

Although this gig was an opportunity to showcase tracks from their recent EP, including Roll Away Your Stone and Liar, it was plain to see that after less than a year together, Mumford and Sons would be happy to play their tracks anytime, without reason. Their enthusiasm for bluegrass and folk is infectious; never before has my urge to pick up a banjo been so strong.

The evening ended with Marcus Mumford showcasing his drumming skill; a clear indication that this band has more directions to go before they are satisfied. An announcement by Winston Marshall told the audience that the bands from the evening were joining forces for a jamming session. Sadly, we couldn’t witness it and were forced back into the rain. This time though it didn’t seem such an arduous task, for we were armed with a new-found warm feeling in the belly and some great new tunes to play over and over again in our heads.

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