The case of London’s Mumford & Sons should be a lesson about the modern music business for any young band yearning for success.
On the strength of the neo-folk (think Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper) quartet’s stellar debut album Sigh No More, the band has completely sold out its first U.S. tour, including Friday’s performance at the Beachland Ballroom.
The band is playing mostly mid-size clubs, and if each concert is like the one here, then Mumford & Sons are destined for a lengthy career.
For a little more than an hour, Mumford & Sons played almost all of their debut, opening with the album’s title track, as the passionate crowd sang along with every word. It had to be a bit surreal for the band, as they stood onstage for the first time in Cleveland, seeing a sold-out room singalong (indeed — frontman Marcus Mumford noted as much).
The band needs to be careful, though, since the music did seem a bit formulaic — four-part harmonies backed by acoustic guitar, electric banjo, upright bass, and keyboards — often starting quiet and gentle then erupting into a crescendo.
In an hour set, it was dramatic and inspiring, as “The Cave” and “Little Lion Man” meticulously built over several minutes until exploding into dance-hall boogie. If it were a longer set, it would have been overkill.
A pair of tracks did mildly deviate from this, and the entire night was better for it. “Thimshel” was a quiet, partly a capella number that never warmed beyond a simmer, and “Roll Away Your Stone,” which kicked into high gear from the first note and climaxed with all of the Middle East, who opened the show, joining Mumford & Sons onstage.
For now, the result was a memorable performance, as Mufmord’s powerful voice mixed perfectly with his band’s Americana instrumentation, igniting a fervor that had the entire room dancing and signing. Let’s just hope that Mumford & Sons' next batch of songs can keep the party going without overdoing it. —Aaron Mendelsohn