Mumford and Sons take over the Bell Center
On October 27th, Mumford and Sons fans journeyed to the Bell Center to enjoy an explosively amazing concert that would steal their voices and leave ringing in their ears.
Nashville, Tennessee natives, The Apache Relay inaugurated the evening with a set that consisted of songs from their 2011 release ‘American Nomads’. Catchy and feel good music filled the Bell Center and proved, at least to me, that opening bands can be just as good as the major acts they are supporting. The end of their set left leeway for Nathaniel Ratecliff & The Wheels, who successfully wooed and serenaded the crowd enough to stall their growing thirst and excitement for the upcoming appearance of Mumford and Sons. Despite the annoying spectators behind me confusing the opening bands for Mumford and Sons (seriously? Why would you spend money on a band you can’t even audibly identify?) and obnoxiously conversing throughout both sets, the opening bands proved to be a more than satisfactory warm up for what would be an even greater show later on in the night.
The arena lights come back on and a pause ensues, the crowd pulsating with anticipation and restlessness. It seems like forever, but the whole stadium is suddenly enveloped in darkness with the flickering stage lights forcing the crowd’s excitement to grow. Mumford and Sons walk onto the stage, each member enlarged by the black and white screen above the crowd. They started off with a new song, ‘Lover’s Eyes’ and then moved on to ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ and ‘Winter Winds’, which made the crowd sing and clap until they were out of breath and their hands hurt. A newer song, Bellow My Feet, allowed the crowd’s voices to rest from the previously energized songs, since no one knew the words to sing along to; nonetheless the performance was beautiful and spellbinding. ‘White Blank Page’ (a personal favorite, I must admit) and ‘Timshel’ tied each concertgoer in an unbreakable sing-along that was accentuated by the mystical lighting of the white Christmas-like lights that draped from the stage to the ceiling.
The band punctuated the narration of their set with bits of French here and there in honor of the bilingual province. Throughout the performance, the black and white screen showed strategic shots of each band mate as they wowed the crowd. With each mention of the approaching release of their new album, out in February 2012, the crowd cheered in excitement and welcomed new songs with respectful aw-induced silence. As they started to play a recent, yet untitled song, singer Marcus Mumford interrupted the performance by breaking a guitar string in a fury of musical passion, much to the crowd’s amusement. However, this did not dither the band’s insistency to play the song; they resumed and obviously blew the crowd away with lyrics that seem to identify every emotion so easily and music that pulls at just the right heartstrings.
Marcus’s comical fumble forgotten, the band starts to play ‘Little Lion Man’ and the entire arena is engrossed in a fantastical light and music show that manages to take your breath away, despite the fact that you, like everyone else, are belting out the lyrics while clapping and dancing to the music that’s resonating not only throughout the room but your mind as well. A new song follows, in which Marcus Mumford proves himself to be a multi-instrumentalist, taking over the drums while also singing. Towards the end of the song, blue and white lighting surrounds the entire stadium, giving off the effect of reflected water on the throngs of people surrounding the stage. Shadows of the band members were also projected onto the crowd. The charming lights are accompanied by eerie music that slowly turns into the intro of ‘Thistle & Weeds’. What comes after this can only be categorized as an earth shattering performance.
One would think it would be quite hard to match the intense emotions evoked through their performance of ‘Thistle & Weeds’ but somehow Mumford and Sons have the ability to surprise you. They start playing another untitled new song that completely entranced the entire crowd as Marcus crooned into his microphone “just promise me we’ll be alright”, which, I will embarrassingly admit, caused my eyes to tear. When they played ‘Awake my Soul’, everyone sang along and the song slowly escalated into enthusiastic clapping and movement. The band then played a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Dance, Dance, Dance”, which made the crowd do just that. The band finished off their performance with ‘Dust Bowl Dance’.
As the band leaves the stage, the crowd is still screaming and pleading for more. Just as the crowd starts to unanimously chant “Olé Olé Olé” the lights blare into the crowd and the band returns to the stage for an encore. They begin the encore with ‘After the Storm’ as lights flash and dance onto the crowd. The band puts on their respective Habs jerseys, which unfortunately launches the crowd into another round of “Olé Olé Olé”. Mumford and Sons then give a final goodbye, with sincere promises to return in the near future, and to somehow seal the deal, they deliver the song that was probably the most anticipated; The Cave.
Although many had their doubts about Mumford and Sons playing the Bell Center (many feared they probably wouldn’t fill up the arena and that the acoustics would be terrible for such a folk type band), all those worries and second guesses were quickly expelled from anyone’s minds, since their performance turned out to be amazing. The band was able to captivate the crowd and the sound was crystal clear. Despite the immensity of the stadium, as well as their ever growing popularity in the media and music industry, the boys of Mumford and Sons possessed what few successful and renowned musicians seem to lack nowadays: humility. They proclaimed that the Bell Center was too big for them, but they made the best of it and managed to let their sound reach every individual present that night.