I WAS THERE | MUMFORD & SONS @ SIDNEY MYER MUSIC BOWL, MELBOURNE, 12.11.15
Mumford & Sons certainly don’t do things half assed, bringing a star studded cast along with them for their latest trip to Australia. Selling out Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne on Thursday, the London folksters chose good pals The Vaccines and Future Islands to support them in one of the biggest Thursday night line ups Melbourne has seen for a while.
The Vaccines kicked things off, playing to a crowd of people who rocked up early to nab a good picnic spot on the hill. The setting sun over the bowl provided the perfect backdrop to the band’s high energy, buoyant style of rock and despite being on early, they truly took ownership of the big stage. Most of the setlist consisted of material off this year’s, English Graffiti, but the highlight was (obviously) the 2011 hit, ‘If You Wanna’.
The sound for Future Islands was a little drowned out by the crowd chatter on the lawn, but that didn’t stop lead man Sam Herring working his absolute ass off. The trio, accompanied by touring drummer, Michael Lowry, soared through a setlist containing most of their recent, highly acclaimed album, Singles as well as throwbacks to On The Water and In The Evening Air. By the time the Music Bowl was soaked in the sounds of ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’, Herring was a sweaty mess, showing off plenty of his signature dance moves and generally looking like he was having the greatest time ever. The bigger stage didn’t quite suit them, but these guys did not put a step wrong, again proving that they are one of the hardest working bands in the business.
One band who did own the main stage however, were the headliners themselves, Mumford & Sons. The quartet were met by ear splitting cheers as they entered the dim stage and eased into Wilder Minds’ ‘Snake Eyes’, sounding more like The War On Drugs than the boppy folk band from Sigh No More and Babel. They were quick to turn back the clock though, unexpectedly dropping ‘Little Lion Man’ to a crowd whose unified singing drowned out the vocals of Marcus Mumford and rumbled through out the entire stadium. From there it was tussle between the band’s debut album and their latest offering, with songs like ‘White Blank Page’ and ‘Thistle and Weeds’ bouncing off ‘Believe’ and ‘Tompkins Square Park’ and proving how much diversity is actually encrusted in an act who have been stigmatised for their old England banjos and kick drums over the last couple of years. Most of the new material was completely fresh to my ears, but it was pretty amazing to see how deeply it connected with the adoring fans who filled every inch of the Music Bowl.
The band weren’t short of banter either; their dry, English humour provided moments of hilarity in between songs, with Mumford even telling the crowd to shut up so they could perform ‘Cold Arms’ unplugged, all crowded around one microphone. The second half of the set drew out the big guns, with hits like ‘The Cave’, ‘Roll Away Your Stone’, ‘I Will Wait’ and ‘Dustbowl Dance’ leading into an encore that included Springsteen’s ‘Im On Fire’ and ‘The Wolf’, which wrapped things up in epic proportion.
I’ll admit, I had fallen off Mumford & Sons after their second album, but damn these guys can deliver a live show and their music clearly resonates with a hell of a lot of people. My feud with Sidney Myer Music Bowl still remains, but I left with a newfound respect for these lads.
Words By Dean Valentino
Pics from the show by Harrison Moss, below.