Mumford & Sons
San Francisco, CA
October 20, 2010
Mumford and Sons: Drama, Drama, Drama
There was much to like about the Mumford & Sons performance at the Warfield last night. The crowd was hugely enthusiastic and the band is comprised of sharp, able musicians that compose interesting, literate songs. Though some (AG) complained that the lights shone too brightly in the eyes of the center balcony fans (maybe they should have distributed sunglasses), I thought the lighting creatively fashioned an intimate environment in the large theater. But, it was all a bit dramatic.
There is a certain inelegant quality to the laid-back, warm puddle of acoustic-based songs that constitutes the oeuvre of M&Sons. They are the Emo-band of British folk music. And like other emo-bands, there was a kind of disconnect between the pleasant, melodic acoustic music, the overly enthusiastic audience and the bleak Wuthering Heights lyrics of heartbreak and endless yearning. At the concert, the crowd whooped and hollered with rapturous approval when Marcus Mumford sang, on M&S' biggest hit Little Lion Man, "Weep for yourself/ my man/ you'll never be what is in your heart" and danced wildly while singing along with the chorus, "it was your heart on the line/ I really fucked it up this time/ didn't I, my dear?" To some extent, I can't blame the fans because the song is an upbeat, fun, melodic song; on the other hand, the lyrics do not particularly invite celebration.
This disconnect, between the ecstatic audience and the bleak, despairing lyrics of many M&S songs, was also further compounded by MM riling up the fans to chant and cheer and then telling them to be quiet for this next somber, hushed song- kind of like having a tickle fight with a 5 year-old and then telling them, it's time for bed.
Despite these problems, M&S is a band to watch. They are young and deeply talented. I can only imagine that they will improve over time. They may not have fulfilled their promise, but they are half-way there.
Highlights: Little Lion Man, Roll Away Your Stone.