We shot Mumford and Sons during their last stop in the borough of Kings. Since then, that's exactly what they've become. Recent Album of the Year recipients, sales numbers tallying in the millions, massive tour stop after massive stop; things don't get that much bigger than what Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, and Ted Dwane are currently experiencing.
On the heels of swiping up the aforementioned Grammy for Babel this past weekend, the gentlemanly English four-piece plotted a course back to Brooklyn, setting up shop at The Barclays Center; a massive cathedral of entertainment lying at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic. Exquisitely styled is a rustic facade of treated steel, housing some of the best local snacks and microbrews that Brooklyn has to offer, Barclays is NYC's latest jewel; humongous yet homey, and on this night, filled to the brim with the gentrified denizens of the city's hippest zip codes. In other words, the room was the perfect venue for a group that has risen through the ranks to become one of the biggest bands on the planet, courtesy of their signature batch of soul-searching folk.
After opening sets from riff rocking, LA sisters Haim and the always endearing Ben Howard ("He's like Elvis in our country", remarked Marcus from stage), the scarlet curtain dropped on a performance that pulled heavy on Mumford's latest album Babel, as well as fan favorites from Sigh No More. All told, the band tallied an hour forty-five on stage, even gathering around a single microphone towards the back of the arena for an understated (and mostly inaudible) encore.
The band's fans, unsurprisingly, spent the entirety of the performance in absolute hysteria. LOTS of folks have pontificated on the reasons behind such devotion at this point. Personally, I haven't nailed down many specifics, other than the fact that I think most people don't allow themselves the opportunity to fully lose themselves in something; a piece of art, a movie, a book, or in Mumford's case, a song (or 2, or 10, or everything they have ever released). Love? Religion? Absolutely. People dive in and don't look back, and perhaps that's why Mumford's fans react as they do. With his pen, Marcus touches on light and darkness, the search for hope, the meaning of the soul, the definition of grace, and yes, love. Seeking ultimate enlightenment in the face of challenges both self-induced and actual; that's Marcus' fight, a fight we all share, really. Paired with the pulse of the kick drum, wicked acoustic/banjo work, and of course, all those luscious harmonies, Mumford and Sons cause the heart rate to quicken, the emotions to stir, and the self-conscious elements that monitor behavior to gracefully step aside. Hence the mass, communal hysteria that ensues. That's why Mumford's show on Tuesday was one of the most joyful gatherings of music fans I have ever had the privilege to attend. That's why Mumford and Sons are right at home in the Borough of Kings.