Mid-way through their Summer Stampede Tour, British indie-folk band Mumford & Sons hosted a performance in Kit Carson Park in Taos, NM, which more than tripled the size of the town.
You hear of Mumford & Sons and I know what many of you may be thinking – overplayed and a bit pretentious. More hype than they are worth.
But I promise you, you are very, very wrong. These men have stage passion and a presence that is rare to experience.
While I loved many of the songs off of Sigh No More in high school, I had failed to fall in love with Babel. The lyrics seemed to be lacking in depth and the chords boasted little differentiation between songs. While I thought the album was decent enough, I had become pretty disenchanted. To be honest, I was more excited to see Mystery Jets, the opening act and one of my favorite bands. I was eager to see Mumford perform at last Thursday’s concert, but not to the same degree.
However, once Mumford and Sons came on stage with their first song, Quiet Rage, I knew I had been extremely mistaken.
I have never seen a band so obviously and deeply passionate about the music they were performing and it was immediately evident. Not only were they in love with the instruments they were playing, they believed in the lyrics – and it was so clearly true of every single band member. The bassist, Ted Dwane, in particular expressed every single note so passionately on his gloriously blonde bearded face. Their passion was so electric it was inspiring. It made me want to discover a job in which I could be infatuated with my daily life (although I have to say if I made this face in any other job, onlookers would probably mistake me for having a stroke).
Though they each clearly had a preferred instrument, they all traded them around several times. Through several songs, Marcus Mumford went back to his first love of playing the drums. At one point Winston Marshall traded in his banjo for guitar, mid song.
Without a doubt the most memorable moment for Taoseños was when local Taos Pueblo Indian Robert Mirabal, a fellow Grammy award winner, performed with the band, playing his flutes during Awake My Soul and turning it into by far the most beautiful rendition I have ever heard. During another song, Mirabal danced behind the band in a clearly unplanned moment that brought a huge smile to Mumford’s face, especially as Mirabal scooted up to take the mic with him.
I had heard from many people that they should have gone to Isleta Amphitheater in Albuquerque, which they could have sold out instead of being ‘selective’ and choosing Taos. Some said they were too big for it now, due to the Grammy’s and honestly I had my doubts. The concert sold out within 3 minutes online; 8,000 tickets were sold and 11,000 people were expected to show up. We are a town of little over 5,000 and only have 5,000 beds in all of our lodging combined. But Taos pulled themselves together and put on an incredible show, despite some of the initial blowback. While this concert was guaranteed to be remarkable for Taos for so many reasons from the start – it is by far the biggest concert we have ever hosted – it is now solidified as unforgettable. I believe the performance was equally memorable for Mumford and Sons, because we showed them a truly Taos experience.
The audience itself was also incredible. There were fans of all ages around me, as I stood front and center, three people back. Not once was I pushed to the front, something I fully expected once Mumford took stage (I have been to a Fleet Foxes concert, which is arguably calmer music and I was still shoved against the railings at the front). The whole crowd sang along to each song, and kept quiet when necessary.
Other memorable moments included a song with Colorado singer Nathaniel Rateliff, whom the band had met on a previous tour and affectionately called Denver, after his home city. Based on the crowd’s reaction, I think it is safe to say he generated himself a lot of new fans. Also, as part of their encore, they asked the audience to be completely silent as they performed Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire around one microphone, acoustically. Amazingly, everyone obliged.
Two fellow Brit acts opened for Mumford. Mystery Jets (a personal favorite as I mentioned earlier), a five piece indie-rock band, kicked it off. The wonderfully quirky band wore clothing that seemed to represent their interpretation of Americana. The group has been producing albums since 2006, and though my best friend and I seemed to be the only people singing along to their songs, I believe this tour has generated them a few new fans due to their stellar performance.
The second act was British soul artist, Michael Kiwanuka, whose music seems to have come straight from the 1960s. He has generated a little more fame in the U.S. and several people sang along to his songs. While I greatly enjoyed a lot of his music, it was very slow-paced and, well, soulful. For those of us who had already been standing for more than eight hours at this point, it was a bit of a yawner.
All in all, I have to admit that this was the best concert I have ever seen. It was incredibly special for me as it was in my hometown. However, I think it was special for everyone who was there, including the bands, because honestly how can that much passion not awaken your soul?
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- Concert Review: Mumford & Sons Live Will Awake Your Soul - June 11, 2013