It would not have been entirely out of place for someone in the crowd at Los Angeles’ Roxy to have yelled “Judas!” at Tuesday night’s Mumford & Sons’ surprise show, where the band played a set exclusively made up of new material from their forthcoming album, the appropriately-titled Wilder Mind, out May 4 on Glassnote Records.
Much like the outraged cloistered folk purists felt when Bob Dylan plugged-in at Newport in 1965, some of those expecting the Mumford’s banjos and bodhrans (an Irish folk drum) and foot stomping acoustic rhythms may have felt disappointed by last night’s radically different song approaches; but for those who also enjoy epic soaring rock and swirling soundscapes a la early-Radiohead or Coldplay were surely entranced by the band’s impressive new direction.
Mumford & Sons Return with ‘Wilder Mind’: Third Album Due Out In May
On this night, the second of two secret shows, the four-piece band of Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane stomped through roughly a dozen new songs with the help of drummer Chris Mass and Tom Hebden of Noah and the Whale on guitar and violin. Mumford’s mellifluous baritone remains alternately glassy and powerful just as it was on “Babel,” the band’s breakthrough and 2013’s album of the year Grammy winner. Here, however, guitarist Marshall seemed to channel Jonny Greenwood as he and keyboardist Lovett created billowing instrumental crescendos on anthemic songs like “The Wolf” and their new single “Believe.“
Part of the band’s sonic sea change may have to do with New York City. Lovett has moved there and Winston splits his time between there and London. Demos for the new album were recorded with Aaron Dessner of the National in his Ditmas Park, Brooklyn studio. In fact two of the songs from the new album, “Ditmas” and “Tompkins Square Park” reference city locales.
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Spotted in the audience were a number of music biz heavyweights, including: a beaming Glassnote CEO Daniel Glass and his son Sean Glass, Universal Music Group Chairman Lucian Grainge, Apple’s David Dorn and Zane Low (formerly of BBC), AEG’s Jay Marciano, Live Nation’s Brian Smith (formerly of the Troubadour), KROQ’s Lisa Worden, Harvest Records’ Jacqueline Saturn, TV host Jimmy Kimmel along with music booker Scott Igoe and the Haim sisters as well as Simon Miller’s Daniel Corrigan.
Tour dates in support of Wilder Mind, which was produced by James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco), begin on June 5 in New Jersey and are the first in a series of the band’s trademarked Gentlemen of the Road’s two-day stopovers planned for summer. The band will also play traditional summer festivals including Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Reading and Leeds.