Last night the Furtheron clan, minus number 1 son who is still in Wales, trooped off to see Mumford & Sons at the O2 arena at North Greenwich.
They stated that this was the largest gig they'd ever performed in doors and that the were "bricking it" playing such a large venue. However you'd never have believed it. We saw them last at Hammersmith Apollo back in Oct 2010 at the end of their whirlwind breakthrough year. Now at that gig they looked genuinely overwhelmed and amazed at just being on a stage like that with a crowd that size - well the O2 is of course up a league or so from there but from the off they looked confident, in charge and frankly that they belonged! They owned the stage last night. Of course a second massive selling album under their belts with consequently much more known material and coming off the back of a long touring schedule including well received gigs in the USA no doubt have given them a more honed edge to live performance.
They are still a bit of an oddity Mr Mumford and friends, folk and country influences abound but mixed with a heavy rock flavour - there was one point where all four were heads down rocking out at the front of the stage with synchronized heads-a-banging pose that would not have disgraced Status Quo or many other rock Gods! The odd bit of that being a Martin acoustic and a tenor banjo as part of the instrument line up... you don't see that at a Megadeth gig now do you? Talking of instrumentation one of their strengths is the multi-instrumentalist nature of them, banjos, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, mandolin, upright bass, electric bass, full drum kits, accordion keyboards... I've no doubt still missed something from that list and add the backing horn and string section and they produce a hell of a noise! And all of it very Mumford & Sons - again one thing setting these guys out is that they have through all this clashes of influences they have forged a very unique British sound, one the crowd loved. They moved from the sing-a-long hits to quieter more reflective numbers with ease, the vocal harmonies were flawless to my ears and the crowd loved it all.
The latest material has more electric and rockier influences - I can see them moving through different phases as they incorporated other genres in their output and hope that they continue for a long time - they are a real success story and well worth seeing. Sound quality was excellent and the light show whilst not hugely elaborate very effective.
Support was provided by firstly Post War Years a three piece electronica outfit - not bad, good soundscapes etc. at times. Second up were Dawes from LA - a very USA folk-rock sound. I like these a lot actually, good songs well structured and played, a good sound overall and superb vocal harmonies. They came back on to perform with Mumford & Sons notably in the rousing show closer, the Beatles classic (although I prefer the unsurpassed Joe Cocker version myself) With a Little Help From My Friends. Lastly Piff the Magic Dragon made a couple of appearances between the acts but his magic act didn't really work in a venue like the O2 - not helped by the hapless camera work - I presume there had been no rehearsal of that bit - too many close ups of the face of Piff and his audience volunteer meaning you missed the actual trick!