Mumford & Sons Explain Ditching the Banjos at Hard-Hitting Album Release Show: Live Review

Review
4.5

To celebrate their new album Wilder Mind, the lads of Mumford & Sons shared some classics, along with a plethora of new material, at New York's iHeartRadio Theater on Friday night for their album release party. The highly anticipated Wilder Mind, which came out May 4, is primed to top next week's Billboard 200 chart.

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Having been hard at work creating the new album, Marcus Mumford admitted that they were "just excited to be playing again." After a short hiatus from touring, the band mutually decided that it was time to take their music to the next level and explore different instrumentation than that of their previous two albums. Having been constructed mainly of their signature elements -- a kick drum, full acoustic strumming and, of course, the banjo -- Mumford & Sons has shifted to a primarily electric sound on Wilder Mind.

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Whether newbies or die-hards to the sounds of Mumford & Sons, the room succumbed to the infectious Mumford vibes once they stepped on stage. Opening their set with a mellow yet hard-hitting new track, "Snake Eyes," the packed house graciously welcomed the four silhouettes veiled in smoke and dim backlighting. 

Over the course of the night, the band pulled out a few favorites like "The Cave" and "I Will Wait," giving a warm "welcome back" to the banjo. Further into the set as the crowd settled, Marcus jumped in: "We're just glad to be playing music… we're glad that you're here and people are listening." The passion for what they do is obvious, and they are clearly no strangers to the stage. 

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"The Wolf," "Ditmus" and their newest single "Believe" were by far the highlights of the night. They were clear favorites, backed by the explosion of applause and the bobbing of bodies that made the floor feel like it might cave in. All dynamic, these were anthems showcasing the clear transition the group has made to powerhouse arena rock, along with a new grittiness in Marcus Mumford's vocals.

To close their set, Marcus jumped onto the drums for "Lover of the Light" and sang, accompanied by every single person in the room. And then there was the encore: After ordering all recording devices turned off, the whole band dropped its microphones and amps for a captivating full-acoustic version of "Timshel" (after not playing it live for two years) and the explosive "Only Love," which closed out the night. 

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Though armed with a big new sound, these four musicians remained entirely humble and appeared genuinely excited to share their music. When asked about how the entire band was able to get on the same page regarding this shift, Marcus Mumford replied, "It really helps that we actually are friends and we've been a band for a while now… we've built a certain level trust… we always follow what [we] want in our minds." 

The Mumfords further explained that they felt they could take the chance now because they had the two other albums already under their belts and could take the risk and see where it would take them. It's now time for Mumford & Sons to do what they enjoy most, and that is taking it on the road with their Gentleman Of The Road Stopover tours, to share what they've created.

Here is the set list from the show: 

1. Snake Eyes
2. Ditmas
3. The Cave
4. Monster
5. I Will Wait
6. Believe
7. Lovers' Eyes
8. Ghosts That We Knew
9. The Wolf
10. Lover of the Light

Encore:
11. Timshel
12. Only Love