It was a cold, windy night in Camden, NJ. Just before 8 p.m. cars were attempting to creep into the $25 parking lot of the Susquehanna Bank Center. Anticipation was in the air as I and my fellow concert-goers walked hastily through the bitter wind, knowing that in a couple of hours, the absurd amount of money we spent on the tickets and parking would be well worth it.
There are not many musical artists that can pull off a live show that sounds the same, or even better, than their recorded albums. Most of today’s Top 40 performers have the reputation of sounding terrible, but no one seems to care as long as the dance moves, over-the-top backdrops and stage decorations fool the audience into believing they have seen an awesome show.
Mumford & Sons is different. These four “Gentlemen of the Road” (as they call themselves) do not hide behind anything, literally and figuratively. They stand strong, right beside the other, at the front of the stage during the majority of their performances. The only exception to this rule is when lead singer Marcus Mumford takes a seat behind the elevated drum set for a few songs.
You have not seen a truly mind-blowing concert performance until you have seen Mumford & Sons live. From the moment they started the show, belting their second album’s titular song, “Babel,” to the very last song of “Dust Bowl Dance,” where Mumford promptly threw his drum sticks into the audience and knocked over a cymbal or two at his departure from the stage, there was not a single audience member that looked dissatisfied.
The band played for approximately two hours, a time I thought could have been a bit longer. But in that time, Mumford & Sons ran through a mix of their new material from Babel (such as “I Will Wait,” “Ghosts That We Knew,” “Lover of the Night” and “Below My Feet”) and fan favorites from their first album, Sigh No More, (like “The Cave,” “I Gave You All,” “Little Lion Man” and “Timshel”).
When Marcus Mumford sings, one cannot help but stop whatever they are doing and listen. When Marcus Mumford sings live, you are forced to stop and listen, and maybe stare in awe. His voice is something not a lot of musicians have, or could even dream of. During the slower, acoustic songs like “Ghosts That We Knew” and “I Gave You All,” where all that was heard was his sweet voice and the guitar, the entire venue was silent. No one dared to disrupt the magical moment that was being witnessed.
I highly recommend that if you are a Mumford & Sons fan, you go to at least one of their concerts. It is an experience I want to have at least 10 more times in my life. Hopefully, with the award of “Album of the Year” at this year’s Grammys, the band will be around for many years to come—making a better album every year, and selling out each venue along the way.
By Mary Pickett