Concert Reviews

Mumford & Sons at the Ogden, 10/27/2010

Page 3 of 3

The band's reputation preceded it. Its last album, Sigh No More, was a compilation of haunting folk rock, equal parts melancholy and optimistic, frenzied at times, and at least a little patriotic and self-affirming, always, always evocative, and the energy behind it is amplified tenfold when played live. Mumford sings with enchanting emotion beneath a dramatic lighting scheme, and every note is played with intention. Each song felt bigger, as if it had an X factor that was edited out in the studio recording, but can't be suppressed on stage.

Native Brits, Mumford, Country Winston, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane formed Mumford & Sons in 2007, and though they've toured extensively since then, they probably didn't anticipate that here in the Rocky Mountains, they'd find a crowd quite so thoroughly obsessed. In fact, when they reached their first new song, they quipped that they thought every song would be new, since they've never headlined in Colorado before. The crowd roared with laughter.

That new song was tentatively called "Below My Feet." It began like many of their songs, slow with haunting lyrics, breaking suddenly into a rapid beat that had the crowd clapping in rhythm without prompting.

The band then erupted into the rocking break-up-make-up anthem "Little Lion Man," and as soon as the first notes started pumping through the speakers, a giant beach ball appeared, as if out of nowhere. That's around the time Mumford & Sons really hit its stride, riding the energy of the crowd, seasoned enough to keep their composure, but not so jaded that they weren't having fun.

After that, the guys traded instruments. Dwane, the bassist, took the drums. Then Mumford did. Lovett grabbed an accordion, and they played us a song they say they made up in sound check, tentatively called "Broken Crown." And at the end of it, Mumford snapped a string on his acoustic guitar, but the band never skipped a beat.

"Dust Bowl Dance" was the last song of the set, and it ended like a question, hanging in the air as if they were challenging us to invite them back. We did, chanting "Mumford. Mumford. MUMFORD. MUMFORD!"

The band obliged, tossed us the beach ball again, and played "The Cave" as the crowd jumped along to the beat. The guys had big smiles on their faces, and it was difficult to tell who was happier about the explosive finish, them or us.

There are a couple of different kinds of great concerts. In one, a band shocks a sleepy crowd, carrying them through their world with an unexpected energy. In another, the crowd is so excited, the energy carries the band. Mumford & Sons had that crowd, and, therefore, really COULDN'T play a bad show. But exceeding expectations is another thing entirely. And this band delivered.

The next time these guys leave England to grace Colorado, they may very well sell out the 1STBANK Center or the Fillmore. Seeing them in a small Colfax venue was an eyes-closed-head-back-deep-moan treat.

Click through for Critic's Notebook and Setlist.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk