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Live Review: Mumford and Sons with the Middle East at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 20 May 2010

 
By on Tuesday, 1st June 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

Even before I started writing reviews, I went to A LOT of gigs, and some people have always had trouble understanding the special draw of live music for me, thinking you can’t get anything live that you can’t get on the album. While some live experiences certainly fall short, when you see a truly great live band, there’s nothing that can beat it. Luckily for me (and USA Editor Mary), last Thursday’s sold out Mumford and Sons show at the legendary 9:30 Club fell into the latter category.

To start out the pretty much perfect evening, while waiting outside the venue we were treated to the incredibly rare kind of D.C. weather where it’s neither freezing nor so hot and humid you feel like you’re drowning in fondue. Once inside, the crowd was in great spirits, talking excitedly about what songs they wanted them to play and whether or not they’d heard of the opener, Australian band The Middle East. After writing up one of their videos for TGTF, I was expecting great things from them, and they didn’t disappoint. Six members strong, they played a seemingly endless number of instruments, from the flute to the accordion to something I’ve come to refer to as ‘The Jinglestick’ Combined in a myriad of ways, they created a sound that was both powerful and subtle, and incredibly enjoyable to listen to. Many of their songs are more intense live than on the album (well worth the purchase), but they really shine in slower, quieter songs like ‘Blood’ and ‘The Darkest Side’ where they make great use of their vocal harmonies.

If you’re looking for amazing harmony, though, you need look no further than West London band Mumford and Sons, consisting of  Marcus Mumford, Country Winston, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane. Their harmonies were flawless, whether powerful and visceral, like in crowd-pleaser ‘Little Lion Man,’ or quiet and haunting, like in the devastatingly gorgeous ‘Timshel,’ a song which left the crowd in awe. Lined up across the front of the stage with their instruments, they had a powerful stage presence, even though they barely moved from their spots. They alternately had the audience staring in rapt attention or dancing and singing along, and the transition between the two was never jarring. Even their new songs, ‘Nothing,’ ‘Lover of the Light’ and ‘Whispers in the Dark’ went down well, and their sparse attempts at banter were pretty hilarious. At one point they asked whether Washington, D.C. was in the North or the South, eliciting outraged shouts on both sides – it’s right in the the middle of the two, and we’ve never been able to choose one. They then joked about Southerners and guns, saying that where they’re from, they are Southerners, quipping, “please don’t shoot us when we leave!”

Other than during ‘Roll Away Your Stone, ‘(enjoy the official video below) when the Middle East rushed the stage wearing nothing but their pants and started banging on percussion instruments, the highlight of the evening was crowd favorite ‘White Blank Page.’ Lead singer Marcus Mumford sang it with a lot of emotion, and the crowd sang along with every word. By the time they reached the long, drawn-out “heart”s at the end of the song, the audience felt like one big family that was all in it together, singing along with the band. The 9:30 Club was the perfect venue for them –  it manages to hold a large number of people while retaining a cozy feel, and it always attracts a good crowd – and they seemed to realize that. They commented several times throughout the night that they had been looking forward to this show in particular because people kept telling them how amazing the venue was, and that we were living up to their expectations. In fact, by the end of the show Marcus said “I think we’re gonna come back” – I, for one, am looking forward to it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eEobPFhpws[/youtube]


After the cut: Mumford and Sons set list and photos.

Continue reading Live Review: Mumford and Sons with the Middle East at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 20 May 2010

 

Preview: T in the Park 2010

 
By on Tuesday, 4th May 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Even with many acts still to be revealed, the lineup for Scottish festival T in the Park is looking pretty impressive.  From 9th to 11th July, 2010, thousands of punters will descend upon a disused airfield in Balado, Kinross-shire for a weekend of camping, shopping, carnival attractions and music across 7 stages.

Friday night see’s live favourite Muse headline the main stage, which will also be graced by Paloma Faith, Faithless and other artists yet to be announced. Rather disappointingly, the Radio 1/NME Stage will be headlined by American pop group Black Eyed Peas, who are, in this humble blogger’s opinion, an incredibly obnoxious band. They’ll be playing after TGTF favourites Florence and the Machine and The Temper Trap, as well as Jamie T. Another questionable choice is 3Oh!3 in King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent, though they’ll share the stage with great bands like Calvin Harris, Hot Chip, La Roux and Dirty Projectors. And finally, the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage will see Echo and the Bunnymen and TGTF favourite Delphic on Friday.

It’s a toss-up between Saturday and Sunday for which day has the best lineup this year. Rapper Eminem will make his debut T in the Park appearance as Saturday’s Main Stage headliner, marking his first festival performance since 2001. The Main Stage will also see performances by Paolo Nutini, Stereophonics, Vampire Weekend and the Proclaimers. The Radio 1/NME Stage is pretty amazing on Saturday night, with a lineup including The Prodigy, The Courteeners and Wolfmother, and King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent is looking equally fantastic. It’ll see the likes of Mumford and Sons, Rodrigo y Gabriela, We Are Scientists and Kate Nash. Other notable artists like Julian Casablancas, Laura Marling and the Middle East will be gracing the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage on Saturday.

Rockers Kasabian headline the Main Stage on Sunday, playing along with other massively popular artists like Jay-Z, Biffy Clyro, John Mayer and Dizzee Rascal. The Radio 1/NME Stage is looking good, too, with performances by Groove Armada, the Cribs, Babyshambles and Rise Against throughout the day. Some of the best up-and-coming bands of the festivals can be seen Sunday on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage, including Bombay Bicycle Club, the Drums, Yeasayer and Two Door Cinema Club.

The festival sold out within 90 minutes,  so if you don’t already have tickets, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Let us know what you think of the lineup!

Full lineup after the jump…

Continue reading Preview: T in the Park 2010

 

Video of the Moment #235: The Middle East

 
By on Thursday, 11th March 2010 at 6:00 pm
 

If you’re anything like me, the breathtaking song ‘Blood’ from Australian folk-pop band The Middle East will stop you in your tracks. After hearing it on NME Radio as Chris Martin’s Track of the Week, I haven’t been able to take it off repeat. Tailor-made for fans of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, it is both delicate and powerful, subdued and joyous. With its gorgeous harmonies, tinkling bells and whistling, it’s impossible to come out of listening to it without a smile on your face. As their official bio says, “after 5 minutes and 27 seconds of Blood you’ll be jumping with joy and brimming with excited energy, dreaming that life is all about smiles and sunshine (and great entertainment).”

The song serves as the centerpiece of their debut EP, ‘The Recordings of the Middle East,’ which is well worth a listen. Originally self-released by the band in 2008, they re-released it last year after a short hiatus, and are generating quite a buzz about themselves. They will be performing at SXSW before touring North America with Mumford & Sons. Check out the amazing hand-crafted video for ‘Blood’ below – it is the perfect accompaniment to an already fantastic song.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWlIEBPKl7M[/youtube]

The Middle East will be performing at T in the Park 2010. If you were lucky enough to get tickets, make sure you check them out!

 
 
 

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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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