British folk-rock foursome Mumford & Sons made their first-ever show in New Jersey a memorable one on Wednesday night (Aug. 1), kicking off their U.S. tour at Hoboken's sprawling Pier A Park with a handful of new material. Backed by the glistening Manhattan skyline, Marcus Mumford and his merry men ran through their 2010 debut opus "Sigh No More," and played five songs from their forthcoming sophomore effort, "Babel," due out Sept. 25 on Glassnote Records.
From the get-go, Mumford & Sons clued the plentiful, beard-heavy Jersey crowd into the fact that their tour kickoff would not just be a jog through their released material -- the show rumbled open with a slow-building new anthem, "Lover's Eyes," that featured horn flourishes and Mumford concluding, "Let me die where I lie/Beneath the curse of my lover's eyes." Two songs later, after a spirited rendition of their hit single "Little Lion Man" inspired multiple girls in plaid to bounce upon their boyfriend's shoulders and pump their fists in rhythm, the band tore into "I Will Wait" (watch below), a rollicking stomp that fit snugly into the band's most immediate "Sigh" songs.
New Song: "I Will Wait" (Track 3 off "Babel")
A quick listen of the new material revealed a lyrical fascination with darkness and ghosts, as well as an even deeper emphasis on all-encompassing melodies that were buoyed at the show by a reliance on the backing brass section. The best of the new tracks was "Lover of the Light," which featured a powerful refrain, Country Winston Marshall slaying the banjo on the bridge, and Mumford stepping away from center stage to provide supple percussion. "I'll be yours if you'll be mine!" the group promised on the track, which played out like one of Dave Matthews Band's better singles.
Of course, the Mumfords' older material was lovingly received by the crowd on the pristine summer night. The group was awash in blue light for the somber intro to "White Blank Page" before the track became a furious jamboree, while "Timshel" was given a slow-motion treatment live in order to offer the audience a quick breather. The group should also be glad to know that, during a rousing performance of "I Gave You All," a twenty-something man in a plaid shirt grinded awkwardly with his girlfriend near the back of the crowd, smacking her left hip in rhythm with the folk tune in a rather stunning display.
New Song: "Whispers in the Dark" (Track 2 off "Babel")
Mumford & Sons' first show in the New York area in two years included a three-song encore that was preceded by a brass rendition of "New York, New York." Fireworks were let loose over the Hudson after the band rattled off a solid cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and crowd favorite "The Cave"; although they unsuccessfully tried to squeeze in one more song before the Pier's 10:00 PM curfew, Mumford & Sons told his onlookers that their "Babel" trek would likely swing by the New York area sooner rather than later.
"We're gonna be back as soon as we can, we promise!" Mumford told the crowd, which roared in response.