Oslo Hackney 9th March 2015
Mumford & Sons have risen from strength to strength in popularity since their first album, Sigh No More debuted in 2009. Their unique musical style continued to bring elements of folk music into the mainstream with their second album Babel in 2012.
The exclusive gig, held at Oslo - a small bar and music venue in Hackney with a capacity of 375, sold out in nine seconds. Despite arriving an hour and a half early to the venue, the queue was already around the corner with fans excitedly speculating about the band's new material from their forthcoming album Wilder Mind.
To avoid any leaking of new material all mobile phones and recording devices had to be handed in. This may have created a few grumbles, but it brought a more personal experience to the gig, as fans collectively engaged in the band as opposed to watching it through their phones, or worse tweeting about it instead.
The band exploded onto stage with the song 'The Wolf' which began an 11-song journey into the new sound of Mumford & Sons. Along with the definite change in sound, the band have also evolved their look. Marcus Mumford, no longer clad in the iconic white shirt and waistcoat, appears all in black. The instruments have also evolved, acoustic guitars replaced with electric, Ted Dwane now plays an electric bass as opposed to upright and, most notably, Winston Marshall has abandoned the banjo! Instead, he skilfully takes the role of lead guitar, gliding through guitar solos with ease and headbanging to songs like Ditmas and Snake Eyes without missing a note.
Some of the album was written in Brooklyn in the garage studios of The National's Aaron Dessner and was produced by James Ford who has produced albums by Florence & The Machine and The Arctic Monkeys. The band's new sound shows influence from both of these sources.
The band were joined on stage by session musician Chris Maas on drums and Noah and The Whale's Tom Hobden on violin. Whilst introducing them, keyboard player Ben Lovett tells the audience "You might have seen them playing with other bands, but they're going to be playing with us for a little while".
Marcus Mumford introduced Believe, the debut single from Wilder Mind which had just been played on DJ Annie Mac's Radio 1 show. Despite the heavier electric sound, the band have retained the feeling behind their music. Their passion is obvious throughout the set and this is one of the reasons seeing them live is phenomenal.
Marcus admits to the audience "....we decided pretty last minute to come play these songs live, so you're guinea pigs basically, pretty lovely looking guinea pigs, but guinea pigs. If this goes well, we're gonna do this other places, probably." Not one member of the audience minded being a guinea pig to what was an amazing show and a unique experience.
This is undoubtedly a 'new era' for Mumford & Sons, they have made the transition from Indie-folk to Indie-rock seem effortless and natural. The band appear to have grown from their time apart, and bring their individual experiences and have evolved their sound. As a fan of Mumford & Sons I was nervous at the idea of a new sound, these nerves disappeared almost the instant they began playing. The album is released 4th May and is something fans should really get excited about.
Review By Jamie RC