REVIEW: By George Fenwick

Crowds basked in the sun at Mumford and Sons' one-night festival at Western Springs, where the main act were in danger of being overshadowed by their excellent opening acts.

Western Springs Stadium proved a worthy venue for the ambitious gig - though insanely long queues for food and drink left punters disgruntled.

Local singer Tiny Ruins, a last-minute addition to the festival, serenaded crowds early in the evening with her tranquil voice; Aussie prodigy Angie McMahon followed with her fresh folk tunes.

Mumford and Sons. Photo / Garry Brandon
Mumford and Sons. Photo / Garry Brandon

Michael Kiwunaka came after, delighting crowds with a mix of soul and breezy rock'n'roll - including his sublime track Cold Little Heart, which some will recognise as the Big Little Lies theme tune.

Leon Bridges largely kept things smooth and low-tempo for his set, joined by a full band and a pair of backup singers to perform select morsels from his near-flawless discography. Bridges' high energy and funky style made his set an evening highlight, particularly when his backup singers joined him to walk out towards the crowd on the expanded stage.

But Mumford and Sons themselves proved their worth by kicking off with a bang, delivering some of their most famous songs early in the set - their second was Little Lion Man, during which lead singer Marcus Mumford got the audience to help him sing the bridge.

The band had a full light display to illuminate the entire crowd, by now packing out the stadium. The screens unfortunately faced technical difficulties, which limited visibility for the crowds picnicking further back.

Their newer tracks reflect the band's continually growing fame - they're emotional, stadium-sized bangers that close out with climactic surges of noise. The crowd was asked to put up their phone lights during one, which added to the cinematic feeling.

There's also a more up tempo, electronic pop tinge to the new material that somehow works. While it verges close to corny Imagine Dragons material, the band saves it by performing with effortless skill and charisma.

Marcus Mumford told the crowd New Zealand was the band's favourite country to tour. Marcus was happy joking with the audience - at one point interrupting the opening of The Cave to comically call out people who were riding the bizarre fairground ride at the back of the crowd. "What are you doing! This is a hit!" he said.

Over at Spark Arena, about 4000 fans crammed in to see Anderson Paak, the hip-hop crooner who defied the temperatures outside by emerging onstage in a jacket and orange beanie in his head.


His energy also defied the weather as he ripped through some of his biggest hits early, the upbeat Bubblin' and Who R U? Before jumping on his own drum kit to accentuate Milk N Honey and Glowed Up.

Half an hour in and he'd lost the jacket and beanie, but the smile remained, a sign the Californian singer was glowed up himself, immensely enjoying his first ever arena show as a headliner.