I’m dragging my feet a bit today. That’s the problem with a midweek gig when you don’t live in the big smoke. Last night I was lured to the city by Mumford & Sons; I’m paying for my lack of sleep today, but goodness it was worth it.
Before I get on to the good bits, I just want to say a few words about the flaws of this mid-week concert experience. Two support acts playing relatively lengthy sets at a mid week gig really seems a bit excessive. While the ticket told us that the show started at 7:30 pm, the main act didn’t grace the stage until 9:45 pm. Sure we were entertained in the meantime, but the crowd was clearly restless before Mumford and Sons arrived. Perhaps they were thinking about being up early for work the next morning. Promoters need to realise that when a band is playing just two headline shows in the country, punters will travel. My sister and a friend came from Newcastle to attend, my husband and I from the Central Coast. I’m sure there were also fans from Wollongong, Canberra, and other far flung corners of the state. Like us, I’ll bet they sympathise with our arrival home at 2 am, my sister’s at 3. I’ll bet we’re all a bit weary today for the experience.
If I were planning the night, I’d have cut Matt Corby. I was really looking forward to his set, having been impressed by his originality on Australian Idol, but I struggled with his performance last night. He showed himself to be an excellent guitar player, with a beautiful voice. But his music also seemed quite aimless at times; filled with wailing and devoid of melodic hooks. His use of looping technology also left me a bit cold; I’ve seen artists like Howie Day use this equipment to dazzling effect and compared to that he was a rank amateur. He might be a good songwriter, but the amount of reverb in the mics left every word unintelligible. To top it all off, he gave the crowd nothing. A few mumbled words at the end of the penultimate song just don’t cut it.
I was more enthusiastic about London based indie posters Fanfarlo. I’d never heard of the band before, but I’ll definitely be exploring more of their stuff after this gig. They reenergized my spirit with their stirring, Celtic influenced modern folk songs and eclectic instruments. Any band featuring a mandolin, glockenspiel, trumpet, and clarinet already has me on side. They didn’t let the hard task of being the second support faze them. They performed with such gusto, and I applaud them for it.
I must admit, my enthusiasm waned a bit as the minutes looking at a bare stage ticked by. But I became revved up again as Mumford & Sons greeted us with the pitch perfect harmonies of “Sigh No More.” The sublime performance brought tears to my sister’s eyes, a sign of the emotion they’d stir in the next hour or so.
I might have been ready for bed once they arrived, but Mumford & Sons were definitely worth that wait. There’s was a rare show; with perfect sound, superb harmonies, spot-on instrumentation, good humor, and one of the most passionate audiences I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of. All of the right elements were there. The album tracks went down a treat, but the new material was received just as enthusiastically. That might be a sign of how good these unknown songs were, but it’s also a credit to the receptive crowd. “Roll Away Your Stone” was rollicking good fun, with a melee of musical friends joining the band on stage for a dance. “Little Lion Man,” which appeared much earlier than I expected, saw the crowd erupt. “The Cave” was bittersweet for me; I knew this was the final song, and while I was having such a good time I wasn’t quite ready for it to be all over.
I left The Enmore in a rush of adrenalin that helped make that long train ride back to the Central Coast a little more bearable. What a wonderful show Mumford & Sons treated us with, but boy am I paying for it now.
Image source: own photos