mon 20/01/2020

Mumford & Sons, Hyde Park BST Festival | reviews, news & interviews

Mumford & Sons, Hyde Park BST Festival

Mumford & Sons, Hyde Park BST Festival

Uplifting return home adds African sounds to the faithful banjo

Energy levels off the scale: Mumford & Sons

At Mumford & Sons’ air-punchingly rousing concert at the Hyde Park festival, thoughts of Brexit start to intrude. Those “Little Lion Man” lyrics, for example – so apposite, surely.  “Weep for yourself, my man/You'll never be what is in your heart/Weep, little lion man/You're not as brave as you were at the start… I really fucked it up this time.” And those giant inflatable bananas that people are waving – is that a subtle reference to EU fruit quality standardisation?

Possibly not everyone in the 60,000-strong, predominantly white, mid-20s crowd is equally preoccupied (but why not? Shouldn’t we be organising a petition?). The Great Oak stage is a beautiful thing, wedged in between two enormous Arthur Rackham-ish trees, and the vibe is laid back, from where I’m standing, with people posing for selfies, jigging, eating fries and swigging wine (£22 for a large glass, long queues even so). At one point I celeb-spot Carey Mulligan, Marcus Mumford’s wife - short brunette bob, brown and white midi dress, faintly Edwardian.

Mumford & Sons kick off with the compelling drum beat of the great “Snake Eyes” from last year’s Wilder Mind, released after a three-year break and in which the band rocked out, leaving behind their established rustic barn-dance style as well as the Amish waistcoats, suspenders and brown cords (now they’re more into black denim and leather jackets). Winston Marshall – the one with the long hair – famously said, “I fucking hate the banjo.” But banjos and foot-stomping are still firmly in evidence as well as electric guitars in “Little Lion Man”. The band’s energy levels are off the scale. Then “White Blank Page” (and a swelling rage – here we go again), with its yearning, emphatic beat, really gets into the hoe-down zone, with everyone yelling the chorus. “Holland Road” gives us a bit of a breather, followed by “Wilder Mind” and the oh-so-uplifting Babel anthem, “Lover of the Light”. The electricity is tangible as everyone sings, “Love the one you hold/And I’ll be your gold.”

Somewhere between “Lovers Eyes” and “The Cave” with its death-themed lyrics (which, surreally, I once biked to in a spin class) – “But I will hold on hope/And I won’t let you choke/On the noose around your neck” - Marcus leaps in to crowd-surf, tossing and turning on the waves of fans, to emerge looking rather rumpled and exhausted. The confetti cannons work their magic and, flanked by the pink sunset, visible behind me and on the massive screens beside the stage, he thanks the crowd. “We’re home at last after roaming around and around. It can’t get any better than this, this is fucking amazing. I haven’t seen such an ocean of people since Glastonbury.”

The roaming around includes South Africa, where they recorded their new EP, Johannesburg, and it’s a big thrill when the band introduces Senegalese Baaba Maal and Malawian band The Very Best, who feature on the album, for the gorgeous African-fusian numbers “Si Tu Veux” and ‘There Will Be Time’. A new development, and one that works brilliantly live. For one of the encores – and there are six, including the lovely “Timshel” on a smaller acoustic stage and “I Will Wait” – they’re on again, this time with South African band Beatenberg, for the infectious Paul Simon/Vampire Weekend-ish “Wona”. The fireworks-enhanced finale is “The Wolf”, tainted forever for me by Virgin Media playing it when you’re on hold. “We love you so much,” says Marcus. “Let’s not be afraid. Let’s not be afraid.” Uplifted, righteous, we file out to Hyde Park Corner tube.

Marcus leaps in to crowd-surf, to emerge looking rather rumpled and exhausted


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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