The Mumford takeover of this space concludes with their Philadelphia gig on Sunday night at The TLA. Just look at Marcus above, he's about ready to fall to his knees, James Brown style. This was taken during their encore, where him and the sons gathered their energy to leave the crowd wanting more. I was completely blown away by the show. Their performance left me just as exhausted as they were. It's one of those shows where you leave a little dazed and you need a few minutes to adjust to the outside world.
The setlist (* with new songs):
- Sigh No More
- Awake My Soul
- The Cave
- Nothing Is Written*
- I Gave You All
- Little Lion Man
- Lover of the Light*
- Thistle & Weeds
- Roll Away Your Stone
- Dust Bowl Dance
- Whispers in the Dark*
- ENCORE: White Blank Page
It's blatantly apparent that Mumford & Sons have forged their way into the hearts of America with this sold out tour and their debut album, Sigh No More. When you have fans lined up around the block an hour before doors, you know you're doing something correct. During my interview, I asked Marcus if he grasped why he was so popular, which he hasn't figured out. Well, if I may, my observation is that the band produces an energetic, foot-stomping hoedown good time. People respond to those freakout moments in Little Lion Man and Roll Away Your Stone. You see the majority of the crowd jumping to the beat.
Then I think there's an honesty in the guys' voices, when they sing in harmony, that connects them to the crowd. Thus, the crowd can sing along as if they can relate to it. There are many moments like that during the show. When a band like Mumford seemingly gain a large audience in a small amount of time, I tend to believe that it's a response to what's not in the mainstream music industry and popular music. People are hungry from some authenticity in their music and that's what you get with these lads.
With that said, their show and their fans have evolved when I saw them last October during CMJ. They were my favorite act I saw during the marathon, and now they have become larger sounding with the highs becomes higher and the lows getting lower. They played for 80 minutes and it was a rapturous journey with plenty of "Yahhhhhh hoooooooo" moments. Marshall suggested that people stomp their feet for the next song, but I didn't think he needed to. The TLA was shaking from Roll Away Your Stone.
The two biggest difference between October and Sunday night was they were looser on stage between songs and the crowds have become filled with mega-fans. Marcus broke a string right before The Cove, so while it reminded him of a story of when he played The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Just as they were about to go on, he got stage fright and could not remember the lyrics. They had to stop tape twice, which is a no-no. Marcus composed himself, and just when he was ready to continue, his string broke, forcing them to stop again.
While the Philly crowd was passionate, they can turn on you pretty quickly. Marcus made the mistake of saying that the Liberty Bell was "alright, a bit small" and that the cheesestake was "unhealthy". That led to boos. It was all in good fun for the band. Marcus also pointed out a guy who didn't want to sing along. Towards the end of the show, he was speechless about how great the crowd responded to their performance.
The added bonus for the night and for this tour are the new songs. They were all bloody great. Lover of the Lights starts off quiet then builds into their folk rock epic with heavy percussion from Marcus on the drum set. It didn't take long for all of us to enjoy the new tunes.
So that's my report from down south. I wish the lads well on the rest of their U.S. journey, and all their success couldn't have come to nicer people. The kiss-ass-ing shall end, and now Marcus can stop following me around.
Australia's The Middle East are tagging along for this tour. Like Mumford & Sons, they left me wanting more. There's about seven of them on stage, and they have Midlake-like designs for us. They have this folk rock compositions that are like mini-orchestra movements. I prefer the grand moments for their opening set, since people wanted to get revved up for Mumford. With that said, their short set got a huge response from the Philly crowd. I like how the music moves gentle between all the band members, they have several singers who ebb and flow together to make these majestic songs breathe.
As a quick side note, I ate at nearby Stephen Starr's Pizzeria Stella, the high-end authentic Italian pizzeria experience that plays Echo & The Bunnymen instead of traditional Italian music. So good.