Three years ago, I fell in love with an independent band that was relentlessly touring the UK, playing anywhere that would have them. When they came to Norwich for the first time, it was a few days before their debut album was released. The show was sold out and I had the privilege of grabbing a drink with the boys after their performance. Mumford and Sons as people are just as genuine as they are as musicians, and the ethic of their current Gentlemen of the Road tour demonstrates this phenomenally well.
Swapping big city venues for theatres in regional towns across the UK, Mumford and Sons are embarking on a journey through lesser known territories this time, treating local people to a show in their own town. Lowestoft, located on the Suffolk coast, appeared to appreciate the gesture – the show sold out in less than an hour and everyone had arrived at the venue early, despite already having allocated seats.
The evening began with two phenomenal support acts, selected by the Mumford boys themselves, in the form of King Charles and Nathaniel Rateliff. Both impressed a receptive audience with captivating performances that demonstrated raw talent by the bucket-load, and did a perfect job of creating a fantastic atmosphere for the show.
When Marcus, Ben, Winston and Ted hit the stage, the room roared a welcome to them. The set began with a new song performed in darkness, with the band accompanied by a string and brass section that gave the performance a wonderfully textured quality. Half way through the set, the quartet step forward and explain they don’t get to perform unamplified much these days, and proceed to play Timshel and new song Where Are You Now with no mics. The harmonies are amazing and Where Are You Now showcases a move towards a more Americana/country-tinged sound, whilst still retaining the band’s character beautifully.
Highlights in the set are old and new; the boys showcase songs from their forthcoming second album, putting Marcus on the drums and Winston and Ben on electric guitars for different songs. New tracks Lover’s Eyes and ‘Lover of the Light’ show brilliant progression from the band’s debut and bode well for the much-hyped sophomore release.
Radio favourites Little Lion Man, The Cave and Roll Away Your Stone get the whole theatre up on their feet dancing, while the band’s encore is a quieter affair, offering another tune performed without amplification – the gorgeous Sister, which appears on the first Communion Compilation record. Mumford and Sons have stood out to anyone who listened from the very beginning, though, and judging by this performance, they’ll continue to do so with the next album and beyond. A phenomenal gig – possibly one of the best I’ve ever been to.