Mumford & Sons at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 8/29/12 (photos and review)By Colleen Smith | August 30th, 2012 | 4 comments
Wearing a suit vest and rumpled shirt, Marcus Mumford might have ambled out of a glen and into a 19th century inn. Confident minstrel merrymakers, the British blokes poured themselves into instruments and vocals, and their music moved a singing, screaming, kinetic crowd to collective Tigger-like bouncing. A horn section — particularly buoyant on “Winter Winds” — and a tenacious fiddler rendered the Sons’ canon even richer.
The set list grooved deep into “Sigh No More,” their Grammy-nominated album. The guys performed their rousing, fame-gaining tunes “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave,” accelerating from zero to 60 several times within a song. For contrast, they downshifted into the transcendent harmonics of hymn-like “Timshel,” which Mumford introduced as “one of our quiet songs.”
Biblical and literary influences lend depth to Mumford songs, drawing inspiration from fellow British writers Shakespeare and G.K. Chesterton. For all his pious moments — the new album title “Babel” alludes to the Old Testament tower — Mumford’s pliant phrasing and raspy voice also conveys dark-night-of-the-soul angst and guttural rebellion. Elegant, yet unmanicured, the band’s music harnessed sacred and profane. Mumford did, after all, accentuate the “F” word in his “Little Lion Man” lyrics, and uttered it again in a new song.
Strands of light bulbs similar to those in the “Little Lion Man” video festooned Red Rocks, adding nostalgia to a night awash in waxing blue moon light -— ideal ambiance for the new anthem “Lover of the Light.”
Colleen Smith, a longtime freelancer at The Denver Post, is the author of the novel “Glass Halo” and the gift book “Laid-Back Skier.”
Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.