Review: Mumford & Sons play Vector

By Hayden Donnell

Marcus Mumford in full cry at Vector Arena in Auckland last night. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Marcus Mumford in full cry at Vector Arena in Auckland last night. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Mumford and Sons offered an English accent- tinged 'kia ora' as they took the stage for their first show in New Zealand.

From there the London four piece had a diverse, near sellout crowd at Vector Arena eating out their hands as they played through a set of their brand of anthemic folk.

The halting greeting was about as much as singer Marcus Mumford said all night.

Instead he put his gravel-tinged voice front and centre, injecting emotion into the show opener 'Lover's Eyes'.

From there, the group headed into a parade of songs from Sigh No More, encouraging the crowd to sing along with the chorus of their breakthrough hit Little Lion Man as a train of school fair-style light bulbs hanging over the arena came to life for the first time.

The audience was soon swaying in unison as the banjo and bass drum dropped into the Biblical reference-tinged choruses of Roll Away Your Stone and the "swirling rage" of White Blank Page.

A set of Babel numbers, including the new hit I Will Wait and hoe-down Below My Feet were similarly well received, though slower songs such as a cover of Australian group The Middle East's eight minute epic Deep Water had some of the younger crowd members talking impatiently.

The subtle pained lyrics of that cover shone a spotlight on one of Mumford and Sons' weaknesses: Their words aren't all that good.

It's a small bone to pick but there are only so many times the word 'heart' should be rhymed with 'start' or 'apart'.

Some lines are twisted into rhyme with such force they end up sounding like they're being spoken by Yoda, such as "my weakness I feel I must finally show" from Awake My Soul or "all the while my character it steals" from Roll Away Your Stone.

The group make up for that with an impressive ability to eke every bit of emotion out of their epic songs.

They are masters of dynamic switches, their swirling harmonies and unerring instinct for when to drop in a bass drum building anthems out of every guitar driven verse.

The banjo work of 'Country' Winston Marshall and pianist Ben Lovett are vital, with their abilities particularly featured on show closer Dust Bowl Dance.

But it's singer Mumford who makes sure the songs are loud even when they're quiet, projecting his voice powerfully up into the rafters at each heartfelt line.

The show closed strong with a trio of Sigh No More, Babel and Winter Winds. Many of the crowd seemed reluctant to leave.

In their hearts they wanted Mumford and Sons to start another New Zealand tour soon.

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