Mumford & Sons at Xcel Energy Center, 9/4/13

Categories: Last Night
Mumford_and_SonsTN159.jpg
Photo by Tony Nelson
Mumford & Sons
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Wednesday, September 4, 2013


There's no question that Marcus Mumford and his band of Sons are brilliant. In one way, at least. Finally someone has capitalized on American pop's two most popular niches, twang and EDM.

Unfortunately, this marketable and stadium-ready combination isn't built to highlight spontaneous musicianship. Over a 105-minute set at the Xcel on Wednesday night, there were few moments that veered outside the predictable build from Mumford's earnest solo affectations over acoustic guitar into the full-on, four-on-the-floor bass drum thump-a-thons. The payoff was the same, over and over, and for the paying customers, this overt sameness of the biggest band of the 2010s was celebrated.

See Also: Slideshow: Mumford & Sons at Xcel Energy Center, 9/4/13

Nearly every song was sculpted in the same fashion as the very first one they performed, "Lovers' Eyes" from 2012's Babel. After first half of the song was played in complete darkness, blue lights eventually illuminated Mumford, keyboardist Ben Lovett, banjo player Winston Marshall, and bassist Ted Dwane. They supremely looked their part as a peasant-farmer boy band wardrobed by American Eagle. The song built to its eventual climax with the help of three string players and a three-piece brass section, as well as Marshall banging his whole body into his banjo, and Mumford adding the kick drum heartbeat.
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Photo by Tony Nelson
When it was over, the audience's screams were for real. Not sure what else was, however. Much like Brit-rock pantomime act Coldplay, Mumford & Sons sold us many songs that looked like and had the dynamics of something epic. A trio of sepia-toned screens provided a magnifier for their grimaces of emotional turmoil, which grew ever more furrowed as songs from both from 2012's Grammy-winning Babel and Sigh No More of a few years prior increased speed and loudness. Just like witnessing a muscle-rippled Gerard Butler bellowing "This is Sparta!" in 300, the band made it abundantly clear when we should feel, and what we should feel at every turn.

This night of cloying melodrama had already reached the brim by the second song, the barn-burning BPM-pusher "I Will Wait." Over and over, the backing boys cried wolf with their flailing bodies at Mumford's more pensive side, and gave away any amount of dramatic tension the night could've built. Also, by this point, the lighting rigs were already shooting exaggerated, Deadmau5-worthy golden beams into the crowd.
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Photo by Tony Nelson

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Photo by Reed Fischer
Yep.
For all of the simulated outpouring from Mumford during songs, he was nearly impenetrable during each lengthy instrument change -- suggesting his acoustic guitars go out of tune muy rápido. Sometimes one of his mates would speak up, but often the stage would just go dark for a spell. "How many of you have never seen our band before?" Mumford eventually asked the sold-out crowd midway through. After a loud ovation, he followed up by asking, "How many of you have seen us before?" Slightly dimmer response. "That's crazy," he said with a smirk. "It's cute there's so many virgins here." Ah, pious titillation.

One of the night's better diversions came when Mumford shifted up to sit behind a full drum kit for "Lover of the Light," which included a timed blue flash from strings of bulbs hanging from the ceiling just as he bellowed the final "light!" "Thistle & Weeds" had the band switch to electric instruments in front of a hot, red set, and there was a tiny spark of life in the foursome. It even scraped a punk quality, or at least My Chemical Romance-style punk.

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35 comments
Justin Beck
Justin Beck

Coming soon...the new Mumford and Sons album: Same Song Different Lyrics.

Claire
Claire

I wish CP would pick someone who doesn't despise the band to review their concert. 

Adam Heppes
Adam Heppes

Those are fighting words Nathan Caspers! Why you starting Facebook fights?

Nathan Caspers
Nathan Caspers

LOL oh my bad Adam Heppes. I'm sorry I offended you and your rather shitty taste in music. ;)

Nathan Caspers
Nathan Caspers

Love these comments! Mumf and Sons is about as cool and hip as Panic! at the Disco....

adam0499
adam0499

I hope you find some sort of peace and love in your heart, dear writer. Taking out all of your anger on Mumford and Sons is quite sad. The show was really fun and it was amazing to see a band acoustically bring pristine sounds to an amphitheater. If this is a gateway for folks to get into other music, than I think it is great. It is hard to hear someone tear apart something I genuinely enjoyed. Furthermore, Mumford and Sons is up there creating music and people really enjoy it. Are you jealous? What do you do besides write nasty words? I'd rather listen to their beautiful music than your cold, ugly words. 

Roger Shirley
Roger Shirley

The first three times I heard the first two songs from M&S, I liked them. Now, good lord, will they just please go away? Please.

revamp1
revamp1

@Vaddio_Kelly They supremely looked their part as a peasant-farmer boy band wardrobed by American Eagle. HA!

ludwitr
ludwitr

You guys are so much cooler because you saw this band in a small venue.  shucks.

Nate Reiter
Nate Reiter

For some reason I've always felt that if I liked them I would be trying to be someone else. They do not connect to me, maybe it's the banjo but it's more likely the earnest accent. Regardless, rage coursed through my veins when my little one was falling asleep to the radio and a block of these guys came on.

Dylan Michel
Dylan Michel

Biggest band of the 2010's? You are aware of the existence of Arcade Fire and The Black Keys right? Two vastly, sorry fucking VASTLY superior bands to this claptrap. Their first album was average, and their second was overstuffed with biblical references and self righteous lyrics. I officially don't get it.

Suzi McDonough
Suzi McDonough

". . . and then Mumford knocked over one of his floor toms before stumbling to the front of the stage to sing the final passage and close the regular set." He came crashing through that drum set like the Kool-Aid man.

David Hlavac
David Hlavac

If I wanted to listen to hippies play crappy music, I would go over to the West Bank and pay a dollar to some busker on the street...

Tim Steck
Tim Steck

seriously that group of douchebags are playing at a place as big as the Excel? the are horrible

solace
solace

@gimme_noise i can name at least 6 people who were at the @400Bar show who weren’t at last nights show ;) (it was closer to about 30 fwiw)

ReedFischer
ReedFischer moderator

@adam0499There are a lot of people in the world who don't enjoy Mumford & Sons but can still manage to maintain peace and love in their hearts .

gimme_noise
gimme_noise

@solace @400Bar I doubt there's much carryover of what a person liked about that version of the band and what they got last night.

solace
solace

@gimme_noise @400Bar totally… i’m fine with that, Varsity + First Ave as my memories (didn’t help that LP2 didn’t interest me one bit)

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