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Mumford and Sons / November and December 2012 UK/Irish Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 25th September 2012 at 9:00 am
 

Mumford and Sons will be bringing their frenetic live show to UK clubs in November and arenas in the UK and Ireland in December. All November theatre shows are priced at £23.50. All December arena shows are priced at £29.50, except London at £32.50/£29.50. Tickets go on sale this Friday (28 September) at 9 AM on Mumford’s official Web site.

My review of their latest album ‘Babel’, now out on Gentlemen of the Road / Island, can be read here.

Wednesday 21st November 2012 – Torquay Princess Theatre
Thursday 22nd November 2012 – Portsmouth Guildhall
Friday 23rd November 2012 – Ipswich Regent Theatre
Sunday 25th November 2012 – Dundee Caird Hall
Monday 26th November 2012 – Carlisle Sands Centre
Tuesday 27th November 2012 – Llandudno Venue Cymru
Tuesday 4th December 2012 – Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
Wednesday 5th December 2012 – Glasgow SECC
Friday 7th December 2012 – Birmingham LG Arena
Monday 10th December 2012 – Manchester Arena
Tuesday 11th December 2012 – London O2
Thursday 13th December 2012 – Cardiff CIA
Saturday 15th December 2012 – Belfast Odyssey Arena
Sunday 16th December 2012 – Dublin O2

 

Album Review: Mumford and Sons – Babel

 
By on Friday, 21st September 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

In an interview with Steve Lamacq on BBC 6music Wednesday night, Mumford and Sons were entirely humble about their worldwide popularity. Keyboardist Ben Lovett even asked out loud, “why us?” They still seem surprised by their success, admitting that many others have tried to do the same thing as them, yet they were the ones that rose to the top.

As we have all seen with the explosion of the folk rock genre immediately following the acclaim of the band’s debut album ‘Sigh No More’ in October 2009, many bands have challenged Mumford and Sons’ solid grip on the Kings of Folk sceptre, including bands we’ve featured here on TGTF Dry the River, Dog is Dead, Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men and Australia’s Husky. Only time will tell if any of these bands will surpass the popularity of the original, but what is of equal importance is if Mumford’s latest release is up to snuff.

We would be remiss not to discuss the album’s title. Talking to Rolling Stone, bassist Ted Dwane says of the heavy name, “I think it’s a great story, the story of Babel. I think anyone can direct it as an analogy for a lot of different situations…I think everyone can [relate to the story of Babel], yes. It’s such a human thing. As humans, we’re such a discontented species. We’re always trying to further ourselves, and you get all the way to the moon and then it’s just discontent. You want to go to Mars. You know, there’s so many stories in that story. There’s definitely, like, analogies for our strange behavior as a species that I consider interesting.” As I’m not a religious person at all, I had to go looking for what this Biblical story of the Tower of Babel was all about.

From what I gathered in my brief research, the story is designed to be an example of a deity’s decision to throw a group of people a curve ball, mostly to force them to stop their attempt to build a structure that would allow them to reach heaven, so they would have to regroup and reassess to face the new challenges put before them. As for the “strange behavior” Dwane mentions in the Rolling Stone interview, one such strange behaviour would be the overzealous fans of Mumford and Sons, those that have made the band into gods. It’s something that us writers here at TGTF have discussed at times, and judging from Lovett’s rhetorical question on Lammo’s programme Wednesday night, the band themselves are wondering, all the while amused, about this as well. ‘Below My Feet’, the second to last track of ‘Babel’, distills this humility in song, but in a more serious fashion. Lyrics “Let me learn where I have been / keep my eyes to serve and my hands to learn” can be the words of the departed or someone who is still here on earth, seeking to take what good that’s been given to him and make good with it. While you never would have expected Mumford and Sons to succumb to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, I think this song is a great pledge by the band to remain grounded. Below is video taken from Glasto of the band performing this very song.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNouBO9DvaU[/youtube]

My first observation upon listening to the whole album all the way through for the first time: there’s an awful lot of kneeling going on in here. And as might be expected from Dwane’s chat with Rolling Stone, many of the songs on ‘Babel’ are tinged with religious overtones. The title track attacks the story head on, with Marcus Mumford declaring, “you’ll build your walls, and I will play my bloody part / to tear, to tear… / but I’m gonna tear…tear them down!” as Winston Marshall’s banjo bangs gaily along. The words “I’m not a fraud / I’ve set out to serve the lord” feel a bit heavy-handed in ‘Whispers in the Dark’. ‘Broken Crown’ stands up with defiance, as if Jesus had a singing voice and bore down on Satan, rejecting the temptation of Christ. Not sure how God feels about the words “crawl on my belly til the sun goes down / I’ll never wear your broken crown / I’ll take the ropes and fuck it all the way / in this twilight, how dare you speak of grace” though….

‘I Will Wait’, the first single released from the album, was a safe choice: it’s got the feel good chord progressions melody and slap happy vibe of all of Mumford and Sons’ most popular songs from ‘Sigh No More’ (‘Roll Away Your Stone’, ‘Little Lion Man’). That said, it can become easily tiresome with its repetitiveness and lack of originality. While sounding nice, ‘Not with Haste’ just doesn’t push the right buttons for me, feeling like filler. ‘Hopeless Wanderers’ and ‘Lover of the Light’, the latter of which the band performed for the Austin City Limits tv programme, see the band trying too hard to write another ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ building to a hoedown number.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAB-7oe3M_c[/youtube]

The songs that succeed better on ‘Babel’ are those that show the band wearing their hearts on their sleeve, ‘Lovers’ Eyes’ and ‘Reminder’. This would have served as a delicious one song after another in the middle of the album but unfortunately on ‘Lovers’ Eyes’, there is an unnecessary boom of sound when the chorus comes in, as if the band realised all of a sudden, “oh shoot, there isn’t loud enough”. ‘Ghosts That We Knew’ is like a ‘Winter Winds’ pt. 2, except this time the message isn’t filled with sorrow or regretful, but a positive one of moving forward from the darkest days: “but I will hold on as long as you like / just promise me that we’ll be all right”.

I can – and do – appreciate Mumford and Sons tackling some difficult subjects on ‘Babel’, and for sure, this is a nice-sounding set of songs that will get played over and over, night after night on the band’s future sold out tours. But with a band that’s gone on to sell millions of records, we expect more. It’s too heavy-handed if you’re in the mood for a ‘fun’ album, but chances are if you’ve picked up a Mumford album in the past, what you’re looking for are good harmonies and a banjo. You just won’t find anything amazing on here.

6/10

‘Babel’, Mumford and Sons’ second album, will be out on Monday (the 24th of September) on Gentlemen of the Road / Island Records.

 

Live Gig Video: Mumford and Sons unveil live performance video for single ‘I Will Wait’

 
By on Wednesday, 12th September 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Mumford and Sons‘ new video for single ‘I Will Wait’ shows the band whipping their fans into a frenzy last month in an incredible live setting: Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre. If you’ve seen them gig before, you know what I am talking about.

‘Babel’, the band’s hotly anticipated sophomore release, drops on the 24th of September.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGKfrgqWcv0[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2012: Day 4 – Communion showcase at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary – 16th March 2012

 
By on Thursday, 5th April 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

While the catchphrase of most returning SXSWers to newbies is “pace yourself”, mine would be “be sure to factor in some downtime”. And “don’t apologise to yourself if your body says to go home”. Before I went to see the Burning Ear showcase on Wednesday afternoon, I stopped into B.D. Riley’s (not knowing I’d return for an interview on Friday, then later for the Music for Ireland showcase) for a lazy pint of Harp and a plate of fish and chips. Sometimes I regret not rushing over to see Lionel Richie at the Moody Theatre on Wednesday, or not extending my gig-going over to Creekside at the Hilton Garden Inn to catch a 1 AM show in the wee hours of Friday morning to see Ed Sheeran. I was just too wiped. So I looked forward to Friday night immensely: hours of Communion Records artists all under one roof, the main room at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary. I even stopped long enough to have a meal at the Roaring Fork on North Congress – some of the best corn bread I’ve ever had, to boot – before sauntering over to the church.

That was when I realized I probably should have arrived early so I could get the correct instructions on how and where to queue. After being directly incorrectly and having stood in the wrong queue for at least a half hour, someone kind finally sorted me out and sent me to the right door…and straight into the main room.

Matt Corby from Sydney, Australia had already begun his set, so I shuffled quietly into an empty spot next to a guy who was studying his iPhone. And then started taking photos with it. With flash. The nerve. I don’t have an DSLR, and unless I’m given specific approval to use flash, I avoid using my flash as much as possible. And here was this guy just snapping away! I guess our pew was too far back for security to notice. I knew nothing about him before seeing him and even know as I’ve been writing this, I had to look up for more information on this bloke: he was a runner-up in an Australian Idol competition, so I guess he’s reasonably well known back home. But boy, when he announced he was going to play ‘Brother’, the crowd let out a big whoop. Guess they know him here too! Below is a free mp3 of his song ‘Winter’ that you can listen to.

The Staves, three sisters from Watford, were second on the bill. They were really disarming, joking about things that had happened to them the last time they had played in Austin, opening for the Civil Wars the previous autumn. Judging from the cheers, many of those people were present, but we could all join in with a giggle as a sister explained that a burly looking man stood up after one song and said (done in an exaggerated Texan accent), “did anyone else cry?” Haha (evidence near the end of the video below). But early in their set, one of them claimed Matt Corby was the devil and warned us, “don’t look into his eyes”. The audience laughed, but I had a “err…” moment, figuring that had to be some inside joke between the sisters and him. ‘Mexico’ had many fans already; new song ‘Tongue Between My Teeth’ was so beautiful in its harmonies, it gave me chills. They ended with the sad yet so beautiful song ‘Winter Trees’. Good work, girls.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPvQhlFcZ-4[/youtube]

Next up is a man who longer needs an introduction in the UK: singer/songwriter Ben Howard. He came with his own cheering section. Seriously. Somehow I ended up in a pew with two Englishwomen and their guys, and the two women made it very clear they were there for Ben Howard, screaming every time he talked in between songs and squealing every time he played the first note of a song on his guitar. Watch ‘Black Flies’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-aeyvHPjxk[/youtube]

Before Ben Howard took the stage, there was a low yet noticeable murmur going through the crowd. I didn’t know what was going on until a teenage girl across the aisle pointed towards the far wall and shouted at her brother, “it’s Mumford and Sons!” And it was – Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Country Winston and Ted Dwane were just chilling out on the side, as if you cheer on their folky friends’ performances. I was so sure that there was going to be a Mumford collaboration at some point during the night but sadly, there was not. The closest we got was an impromptu John Martyn cover performed at the end of Howard’s set, when he invited the Staves and later performer Michael Kiwanuka. I apologise for the quality of the visuals on the video below; the couple in front of me could not decide if they were going to snog (argh), talk (argh) or break away from each other.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2ISY8qyk68[/youtube]

Willy Mason had the unique (dubious?) characteristic that of all the Communion artists performing I this showcase, he was the only American. I’d not heard of him until he had been associated with Communion, so I had mistaken him for an Englishman. He has a Johnny Cash aura about him (“man in black”) but a bit of rough and tumble like the Jim Jones Revue too. The coolest thing about his performance? His drummer’s kit was connected to a strange looking contraption that stood in the middle of the stage, so that whenever the drummer hit something on the kit, something else was set off on the contraption. Sorry to say, I wasn’t moved by his performance at all.

But I was adamant about staying put for the next act. The band I was most excited to see in this showcase was Daughter. As soon as I saw their name on the SXSW bands list, I was ecstatic. And I was not disappointed one bit. Unlike the teasing nature of the Staves earlier, Elena Tonra was so shy and soft-spoken but was adorable in her shyness. “Our name is Daughter. Nice to meet you. This one’s about death.” Laughter from the peanut gallery before they started into ‘Landfill’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBJEQLDwiJQ[/youtube]

That’s when I just about lost it. I think had I not been in such close proximity to strangers, I would have been a bawling mess on the floor. Through her words, it’s obvious she’s been dumped, she’s been hurt, she’s gotten her heart broken. In the song ‘Love’, she asks the lover that jilted her for some easy skirt, “did she make your heart beat faster than I could? / did she give you what you hoped for? / oh, loveless nights / I hope it made you feel good”. It’s like what they say, a woman scorned… All I can say is…wow. In my top 3 performances at SXSW, for sure.

After that emotional reaction to Daughter, BBC Sound of 2012 winner Michael Kiwanuka was a safe, if not super remarkable choice to watch after. Before he came out onstage, Ben Lovett, dressed to the nines in a debonair suit, gave a short and stirring speech on how appreciative he was of everyone coming to this showcase and their warm responses to all the performers. Kiwanuka was confident, broadly smiling through his short set. (Six songs. SIX SONGS? That’s it???) From the opener of ‘I’m Waiting’ to the song everyone knows him for, ‘I’m Getting Ready’; from ‘Tell Me a Tale’ to set closer ‘Home Again’.

I had a wonderful buzz from the magnificence I heard in that acoustically sound room, but my mind was in a state of relaxation that could not be matched anytime else during all of my time at SXSW. Thank you, Ben Lovett, for putting this showcase together and thank you, bands, for bringing me to an incredible moment of zen in Austin.

More high-res photos can be viewed on my Flickr.

 

Live Review: Arcade Fire with Owen Pallett, the Vaccines and Mumford and Sons at London Hyde Park – 30th June 2011

 
By on Monday, 11th July 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: We imagine that Arcade Fire’s show at Manchester’s MEN Arena won’t have the same curfew issues as this Hyde Park show. So why not enter our contest for a pair of tickets to the show, if you haven’t all ready? Full contest details here.

Montreal outfit Arcade Fire’s trips to England are often something of conversation and big steps. Last year came the controversial decision to have the group as headliners for Leeds and Reading festivals, which was quickly followed by a huge European and world tour which hit some of the most prominent arenas in the world. Follow this with Grammy and Brits success, and last year was a big year for The Subu..I mean Arcade Fire (sorry Barbra Streisand) all in all, and now with the deluxe version of their third record, ‘The Suburbs’, in stores and the Spike Jones short film released, the troupe have assembled at a bigger stage once more at Hyde Park, London.

Not that you can hear them though. Due to the restrictions at Hyde Park, Win Butler and Co. aren’t running at 11, more 7 and you can tell that it’s irritating them. “The neighbourhood wants you to be quieter”, shouts Win during ‘Power Out’. It’s greated by a muffled cheer. Sadly, this hasn’t been an issue earlier in the evening as volume levels have been relatively high all afternoon. First up was Owen Pallett. Specially chosen by tonight’s headliners and later joining them on stage as an extra to their live setup, Pallet played a selection of his finest tracks and began to warm up a crowd who, mostly, hadn’t heard of him.

The Vaccines are riding on the back of their debut album at the moment, which has seen them become one of the hype bands of the year. Their catchy tunes storm over Hyde Park and they go down a treat for many. Their Strokes-esque style gives the crowd a lot to jump about, even if sometimes, it’s hard to explain where one track ends and another begins.  Beirut then bring a renaissance to the park, giving everyone a much needed refreshing sound. It’s different to anything else you’ll hear in such a huge venue, and the crowd warm to it well, even without knowing many of the tracks.

After a long changeover comes 70 minutes of Mumford and Sons. For many here, the group are the main attraction, and in glimpses, you can see why. ‘Little Lion Man’ brings a huge singalong and jig from the thousands assembled in a now boiling Hyde Park. Playing a selection of songs from their second album, which should be released by the end of the year, the indie-folk men are in high spirits. I can’t help but feel like Mumford and Sons miss something though and at times, they bore me immensely. Their style becomes monotonous and when you know about the band as people, you start to question where their lyrical choices stop being heartfelt and start being cliches It is however a riotous end with ‘The Cave’ bringing their set to a close.

Twenty minutes later, Arcade Fire step out into their biggest UK show to date and they’ve decided to change it around a bit. Gone is the air of predictability that has been building around them and instead the usual set closer ‘Wake Up’ is played second so “we can see people’s reaction,” says Win Butler. It’s a night that really shows that Arcade Fire have begun their transition from the band that made ‘The Suburbs’ to a seriously big group about to progress to their fourth album. Every part of their careers has been a steady progression from a band of relative unknowns to a group on the verge of Stadium Rock and when a track like ‘Month Of May’ comes along, there’s pandemonium in both crowd and stage. Everyone seems to be on board watching a band in the form of their lives realise who they can be.

Giving their UK debut to deluxe ‘Suburbs’ track ‘Speaking in Tongues’ and prompting an echo with every singalong part to their music, the dedication in the area is huge. For a band with so many mid-power songs, you can hardly compare them to the Eno sound that Glastonbury headliners Coldplay and U2 demonstrated the week before, but you can certainly see them at the top of the Pyramid stage billing in 2 years time. Especially with huge tracks such as set opener ‘Ready To Start’ and ‘Keep the Car Running’ that features in their encore. Over the period of 90 minutes, Arcade Fire do have a few lapses. They’ve still not quite got the full singles collection to fill such a huge occasion, however when you’ve written album tracks as good as ‘Rococo’, who really minds?

Tonight then, whilst not being a huge triumph, has seen the Canadian group cement their position in the record collections of all present and given a tip of the hat to those who questioned their capacity to do huge shows. Closing with ‘Sprawl II’, Regine Chassange’s crowning moment in ‘The Suburbs’ leaves everyone feeling just as warm as they were when the sun was beating down just a few hours ago. If they can turn up the volume again, they could just conquer.

More photos from this concert after the cut.
Continue reading Live Review: Arcade Fire with Owen Pallett, the Vaccines and Mumford and Sons at London Hyde Park – 30th June 2011

 

Mumford and Sons / October 2010 UK Tour

 
By on Monday, 20th September 2010 at 3:06 pm
 

TGTF favorite Mumford and Sons are hitting the road next month for a series of sold out dates across the UK. They’re amazing live, so if you aren’t lucky enough to already have a ticket, I would recommend begging those who do.

Friday 1st October 2010 — Glasgow Academy
Saturday 2nd October 2010 — Manchester Apollo
Monday 4th October 2010 — Brighton Dome
Tuesday 5th October 2010 — Nottingham Rock City
Wednesday 6th October 2010 — Bristol Academy
Friday 8th October 2010 — London Hammersmith Apollo
Saturday 9th October 2010 — London Hammersmith Apollo

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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