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Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Sigh No More

Mumford & Sons and Sunparlour Players at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust one question for everyone at Lee’s Palace for Mumford & Sons on Monday night. Where did you all come from?

This question doesn’t just come from the fact that this band – whose debut album Sigh No More was only just released in North America yesterday and who were conducting this super-short, four-date North American tour without, at least to my knowledge, any major promotional push – had sold out Lee’s Palace, but had filled it not with curious musical passers-by, but raving, honest-to-god fans. Largely of the shrieking variety. Seriously, I had not seen Lee’s – or any venue – so packed and so unbelievably LOUD.

And so early. It was to the benefit of the openers that Mumford & Sons’ fanbase is punctual, because they got to ply their wares to a pretty full house and really, I couldn’t think of a better-suited local support act for Mumford than Sunparlour Players. Like the headliners, the duo are all about impassioned and rousing country-rock performed with remarkable musical dexterity, though the Sunparlour are considerably (and deliberately) rawer in execution – think moonshine versus whiskey. Either way, the audience ate it up and responded with huge and honest enthusiasm, and deservedly so – Sunparlour Players set the table with a killer set.

It’s not especially original by any stretch, but the phrase “bluegrass Beatles” crossed my mind later on in the evening as I tried to articulate what I witnessed with Mumford & Sons’ set. From the moment Ted Dwane carried his upright bass across the stage while they were still setting up until the end of the encore, the capacity crowd roared, shrieked and just went completely bonkers for the London quartet. And while I am incredulous about the fact that so many were so enthralled by them so early in their career – they certainly didn’t have that sort of fanbase when they first visited in October 2008 – that it’s happened really doesn’t surprise. If you accept that there’s been a heretofore untapped market for earnest, bluegrass/country-inspired indie rock, it’s hard to think of an outfit better positioned to exploit it than they. They’re handsome to a man with a distinctive, old-timey sartorial style; their banter is charming, witty and delivered with an English accent; their songs are sensitive, soaring and anthemic; their musicianship and vocal prowess ridiculously polished. To wit, there is no reason, in a just world, that Mumford & Sons wouldn’t be filling rooms the size of Lee’s if not larger with devoted fans, ready willing and able to sing along with every word. And yet to actually see it happen was wonderfully bizarre.

Even with so much going for them and the audience won over before they played a note, Mumford & Sons still had to deliver on the performance, and deliver they did. From the opening four-part harmonies of “Sigh No More”, it was clear they came to play. Their set covered most (all?) of Sigh No More, rendered perfectly with the crescendos lifting spirits and the quiet passages breaking hearts and the omnipresent kick drum propelling it all forward. The also aired out three new songs which didn’t stray far from their formula but held to more conventional rock band arrangements – at one point, they were kitted out with electric guitar, electric bass, keys and drums; completely standard for almost any other band but strangely alien on them. Perhaps most memorable was the first song of their encore, wherein the four of them played unamplified from the edge of the stage. Not an unusual move in acoustically gifted venues, but the first time I’d seen it pulled at Lee’s Palace and, of course, they did it masterfully. A show like this one couldn’t have ended any other way.

Photos: Mumford & Sons, Sunparlour Players @ Lee’s Palace – February 15, 2010
MP3: Sunparlour Players – “Battle Of ’77”
MP3: Sunparlour Players – “Shake & Bake For Goodness-Sake”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds”
Video: Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man”
MySpace: Mumford & Sons

Clash chats with Field Music while Drowned In Sound takes a track by track tour through their new album (Measure), which you can follow along with thanks to MBV Music, who are streaming the album right now. They’re at The Horsesehoe on March 19.

Stream: Field Music / (Measure)

Baeble Music is streaming a full live show from Fanfarlo. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 9.

Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine talks to BBC and The Daily Mail. She brings her BRIT-crowned “best British album” Lungs to The Phoenix on April 10.

Check out this PitchforkTV Surveillance session with The xx, coming to town twice in April – on the 4th at The Phoenix and on the 20th at The Kool Haus.

Clash has excerpted part of their feature piece on Hot Chip, in town at The Kool Haus on April 20.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit takes Clash on a guided tour through their new record The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, due out March 9. See them at the Opera House on May 4.

BBC checks in with Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos on the direction of album number four.

Laundromatinee has a video session and The Boston Herald an interview with We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Drowned In Sound is currently streaming the whole of Lightspeed Champion’s latest opus Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You, out now.

Stream: Lightspeed Champion / Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You

PopMatters talks to Andy Partridge of XTC.

By : Frank Yang at 8:32 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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RSS Feed for this post7 Responses.
  1. suckingalemon says:

    i was looking down into the audience and saw these girls belting the songs so hard.
    iv never seen this from a band who had just put out an album.

    the song they did at the end, Sister, they have a link on their myspace to download.
    it’s a really great song.

    i would love to see these guys tour with langhorne slim.

  2. luo says:

    Great gig. Being from Ireland I’ve had their album a good while, and really didn’t think they were that well know over here at all – the place was packed. Group of girls in front of me knew every word and were going mental.

    The album doesn’t even do them justice after seeing them live – really great set. Lee’s Palace is a great spot too!

  3. Jen says:

    THIS REVIEW IS SPOT ON!! Yes!!

  4. jeffreygeoffrey says:

    a terrific show. knew something was up when the young dude next to us was singing all the words to one of the filler tracks off Sigh No More

  5. Jen says:

    Oh, and the entire album was performed except “Winter Winds” and “After the Storm.”

  6. Blog’d: MGMT Album Art Reveal Irks Hipsters; Mumford & Sons Blowin’ Up says:

    […] Mumford & Sons take the world by storm — even Toronto… […]

  7. MattKlomp says:

    Jealous about this show, really hoping to see these guys soon. Sigh No More is a fantastic album. Definitely recommend that everyone check it out. Here’s a video for “Little Lion Man” – great stuff! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLJf9qJHR3E