The London-based Mumford & Sons was potentially filming on the sold-out first night of a two-night stand at Duluth’s Gwinnett/Infinite Energy Arena on Monday, April 11th.
The popular group’s usual charms were there – Marcus Mumford’s clear, distinct tenor vocals, Winston Marshall’s buttoned up look and long, curly hair, Ben Lovett’s smiling, dancing, stage-front keyboard playing, and Ted Dwane’s bass skills and audience interaction – as well as the full band’s collective, tremendous skills at lilting vocal and guitar lines and exceptional harmonizing.
This tour was the first one featuring Mumford & Sons’ electric songs. It wasn’t exactly like Bob Dylan going electric, but the addition of electric guitars and bass definitely brought on the rock and added more dynamics to the folk-based group’s live set.
Mumford’s stage setup included a tambourine, a kick drum, and a teleprompter. He liked to occasionally stand on a speaker to face the audience, tilt his guitar often, and face the string players often.
Marcus Mumford addressed people in the nosebleed section and the bleachers, and mentioned liking that there appeared to be two pits in front of the stage. “It smells like weed in here. I’ve gotta watch what I say because I’m high as shit,” he announced before telling a Trump joke. “We’re English, so we can joke about it… You’re fucked.” Later in the show he remarked, “You are the best audience in America we’ve played to in a long time – we’ll be back tomorrow night.”
Mumford also thanked opener Blake Mills and his band. Mills’ drummer, Stuart Johnson, sat in on a few Mumford songs, and Mills contributed guitar to a few. The band also had backup players on trumpet, trombone, and violin.
The entire show featured an unexpected light show. Lots of heavy blue or white lights washed over the band, the audience, or both, as fine laser points of light hit all the way to the back walls and two video screens showed mirror images of the band on opposite stadium walls.
Mumford clapped along with the audience during and between songs, and the audience sang along to the band’s anthemistic songs.
At one point, Mumford and Marshall peeled off their jackets, and not long after, Mumford left the stage, darting around the stadium to sing in the audience. He started along stage left side, ran straight back then followed along the top right of the stadium a bit then ran back down to stage right, then dashed back onstage. He also jumped on the drum kit, playing it with mallets, drumsticks and brushes, all while singing, as showering pyrotechnics signaled the end of a dynamic electric jam.
Near the last third of the show, on a small stage near the back of the floor, white lights shot straight up. Mumford said that things will be really quiet, but people still hooted and hollered while the band sang without microphones for three songs.
Heading back to the main stage, the stage was blacked out, and then there were blue background lights only, after which there was only white light onstage with dark pink and soft blue laser points on the back walls.
All the songs were originals by Mumford & Sons other than a slow starting, then progressively bouncy, version of Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” with horns.
The night’s closer was a slightly fast version of “The Wolf” with Mumford on a Fender Jaguar and reverberated vocals and Marshall on another electric, as bassist Dwane played on the riser with drummer Chris Maas.