Sunday, February 21, 2010
Mumford & Sons: photo by Michael Ligon
Update[Feb 22/2010, 10:23 pm]: Review now up.
If there had to be one word, well actually two words hyphenated, that could best represent the night of February 15 at Lee's Palace, it would be 'foot-stomping'. Opening the show were local roots outfit Sunparlour Players, with the bluegrass-influenced UK hot commodity Mumford & Sons headlining.
I arrived a tad late to an already fairly packed venue a little into openers Sunparlour Players set. The band, who as far as I know are currently a trio, were playing this night as a duo compreised of Andrew Pennersings on guitar, banjo and perhaps a few other things and Michael Rosenthal on drums and percussion. Their third member Dennis Van Dyne wasn't there, although not to say he isn't necessarily important, but as a duo they were very effective. Mr. Pennersings' lead vocals displayed a grit that could be nuanced on quieter, folkier tunes but achieved an intensity on their more raucous material. A good sense of melody overall, their musical influences ranging from rock n' roll, country, blues, and folk were more than competently displayed. It'd been clear from song to song how much the crowd were appreciating the set and as their final song burst at the seams with a gospel energy that could barely be contained, my only reaction was 'wow' why had I never seen them live until now given the ample opportunities they'd performed around town over the last several years. My reaction seemed to be the major consensus as the crowd roared at a level usual displayed for a headliner's best show. Had the headliners that night not been Mumford & Sons, I'd have imagined a major upstage. The band's most recent album is 2009's "Wave North".
West London four-piece Mumford and Sons had quietly sold out their debut Toronto headlining gig weeks before the show and with little to no Canadian press that I recalled other than Chromewaves' recommendations, the reaction amongst some local music bloggers was how. As the crowd was comprised largely of young to mid-twentysomethings, my only guess was that young adults these days are much more music savvy than I'd thought - either that or else I'm relatively out of the loop. So I purchased a ticket to the show weeks before on a gamble, having only finally listened to the band's album on the day of the show, and I'm glad I had the foresight to pick up a ticket for the show before it sold out. I cannot see how this show won't make my end-of-year fave shows of 2010 list. From the moment that band stepped onto the stage, the crowd reaction was intensely excited.
To quote their bio, their music is an "old-time sound that marries the magic of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with the might of Kings Of Leon". While there's a simplicity in their musical setup comprising of group vocals, keys(Ben Lovett), acoustic guitar, stand up bass(Ted Dwane), hand percussion, drums, banjo(Winston Marshall), and a kick drum(played by lead vocalist Marcus Mumford), there was a richness to their melodies and performance. Particularly effective was lead vocalist Marcus Mumford's ability to sing, play guitar and play the kick-drum all at the same time. Call them bluegrass for these modern times, they displayed the same urgency as the folk-infused indie rock of Scotland's Frightened Rabbit[who've coincidently have caused a similar stir when they've played Toronto], except without electric guitars. For a band whose debut album (entitled "Sigh No More" which was recorded Markus Dravs who also recorded Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible") which hadn't actually been released in Canada until the day after the show, there was a surprising number of people who knew the words to the songs. With physical looks on their side, they had many of the female contingent swooning. And as exemplified by Marcus Mumford's comment the band voted that bassist Ted Dwane was the best-looking guy in the band (a crack at his poofy haircut I believe), the bad also a sense of humour and fun. Though they'd formed in 2007, it's still relatively early in their career, but the future looks bright. They even made their network television debut on Late Show With David Letterman a few days ago. Those boys are going places.
Chromewaves, The Mad Ones, and She Does The City have reviews of and or photos from the show. Update: Jen and Amanda from Sticky Magazine have their review and photos of the show now up.
Photos: Mumford and Sons, Sunparlour Players @ Lee's Palace, Toronto (February 15, 2010)
MySpace: Sunparlour Players
MySpace: Mumford & Sons
Video: Mumford & Sons - "Little Lion Man" (live on Late Show With David Letterman, February 17 2010)
Working on the Mumford and Sons review still(Update: it's now up) but I just got my review up for the Wavelength 500 show that took place at Steamwhistle Brewery on February 11, 2010.