By: Alyssa Balistreri –
On April 3, 2015, Mumford and Sons played an intimate, secret show to a crowd of lucky fans at Lee’s Palace in Toronto with under 24-hours notice. Forced to leave all mobile devices at the door, the show was different from anything fans had experienced – the UK four-piece band played completely new material.
The band walked on stage casually dressed and all smiles, and waves of excitement swirled around the room for the impending new music. Marcus Mumford purred the first few words of “Snake Eyes”, and anticipation built for the chorus with every lyric cast in Mumford and Sons’ familiar song construction – start slow with a lot of harmonic guitar notes, filled with vocal harmonies, with a re-occurring lyric following close-by: “It’s in the eyes / I can tell You will always be dangerous”. The crowd went wild when the song finally broke into the final climax and lights burst from behind the band. The drum pounding resonated with every word, building more and more emotion.
Mumford introduced the next song, title track “Wilder Mind”, and the crowd hushed as he started, “It’s in my blood / It’s in my water”. Each fan absorbed every note and word so deeply – the audience had no familiarity with the material so they listened intently. Ted Dwane’s strong bass-line drove the intro as Mumford continued the song, “You can be every little thing you want nobody to know / You can drown out the street below”
Mumford and guitarist Winston Marshall sung out the first lyrics and cracked a smile as the crowd screamed back every word on lead single “Believe”. The full band leapt in after the heartfelt intro, and when Mumford screamed back and forth with the crowd, “I don’t even know if I believe”, the song peaked to its end with a fit of emotion. Mumford threw the mic stand to the ground, and the crowd at Lee’s Palace exploded with excitement.
Keyboard player and vocalist, Ben Lovett thanked the fans in attendance for leaving their phones at the doors because the night was about their new music and they want it to be as much of an experience as possible.
Mumford introduced “Monster”, starting slow with a country/folk rhythm and guitar solo a sparse song with unmistakable harmonic vocals: “I saw you dance in the devils arms / Yours is the face that makes my body hurt” and “Fuck your dreams, don’t put them on sleep, I’ll turn into a monster for you…”
The band took a second to acknowledge the crowd’s dedication, with Mumford saying “There’s so much to catch up on! Sorry for being fucking idiots and making a concert on Good Friday – our bad!” A man shouted from the crowd “This makes it a GOOD Friday!” and Mumford responded “Ay!”, pointing with a huge smile.
The band revealed a side to themselves so far unseen in their catalogue with the fit of psychedelic guitar and eccentric drumming on “Just Smoke”. The next single “The Wolf” set out with an incredible amount of energy as Mumford screamed, “You’re all I ever longed for” and the crowd sang along throughout the chorus. “The Wolf” is set for release on 7” vinyl on record store day – April 18, 2015.
The band slowed the pace with a song introduced as “Tompkins Square Park”, And Mumford sang under a single light “I wanna hold you in the dark one last time”.
When the band paused to change out gear (a “spit and sweat filled microphone”), the audience shouted out questions to the band and a man shouted from the back of the room “Where’s the banjo!?” Mumford immediately countered with a joking “Get Out!” The whole audience broke into laughter.
Familiar sounds of the tambourine paired with tightly-knit harmonies on “Ditmas” made it immediately recognizable, but the band explored new territory incorporating drums and electric guitar, a welcome addition to their repertoire.
Last song of the set “Hot Gates” opened with all four voices in beautiful harmony and Mumford’s soft-guitar accompaniment maintained an even tone before the large bass drum and toms fleshed it out. The band walk off stage to the ecstatic crowd, saluted and said “we won’t be gone long, we will be back in the summer, and maybe we can play a bigger show?”
Fans chanted “Encore! Encore! Encore!” throughout Lee’s Palace and the band returned to play “Only Love”. The perfect vocals awed the audience: “I rage and I rage, but perhaps I will come of age” before the song climaxed and lights silhouetted the band from behind again as the last burst of energy filtered across the room and the band left with goodbyes for now, but not for long.
1. Snake Eyes
2. Wilder Mind
5. Just Smoke
10. Hot Gates
11. Only Love