Live Review: Mumford And Sons

What becomes of the broken-hearted? In the case of these folkies, they get up and make you dance

Yes, it’s long been associated with flower-y dresses, fingerpicked guitar and people – folk, even – who would most likely hit the deck were you to so much as breathe in their direction. But folk, oh lovely, old-fashioned-yet-somehow-more-appropriate-than-ever folk, is the underbelly of everyone’s musical yearning. And even if, looking down at your collection of Britpop compilations, you initially feel like a book blown open at the wrong page, there’s no stopping live folk from infiltrating your nerves when it comes as well-crafted as that of [a]Mumford & Sons[/a]. Forget the page number; these London boys are like an entirely secret chapter of mood-altering poetry.

With their unforced vocals on the almost-a cappella ‘Sigh No More’ (a nod to Shakespeare!), the evening begins in all its bluegrass glory. Instantaneously, the crowd becomes a 200-strong choir for ‘Awake My Soul’. “How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes/I struggle to find any truth in your lies”, charms lead swooner Marcus as the audience swoon back. New single ‘Little Lion Man’ is set to be king of the folk jungle this autumn, seeing as it’s already causing rabid choreography that’d have Cotton Eye Joe’s lot asking for direction. And for quite possibly the first time from these terribly polite, head-scratchingly humble folkies, there’s a curse word spat out with quite impressive regret: “It was not your fault, but mine/And it was your heart on the line/I really fucked it up this time, didn’t I, my dear?”. ‘Winter Winds’ makes it clear they’re dreamers, listening to heads over hearts and hearts over nothing. The spine-chilling ‘White Blank Page’, meanwhile, is so protruding with genuine adoration and timeless love that M&S leave the butterflies in our bellies tired out. Then ‘Thistle And Weeds’, a heavier, sorrowful exploration of finding strength in excruciation, climaxes with fading double bass and raspy vocals.

Tonight, a world away from its origins, we’re treated to hoe-down excellence dealing with love which appears to leave the calm of one’s soul split in two. Yet, we don’t want to pull a [a]Morrissey[/a] and
cry into the piece of stale toast our ex-lover bit into before they left. Instead, we want to dance, clap and sing, leaving a thousand cheers in our wake. That’s the beauty of [a]Mumford & Sons[/a]; they exhaust every consideration of a broken heart and bring it back to life beautifully.

Kelly Murray