Mumford & Sons At The Belasco Theater
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By Crystal Larsen
"We don't get to play venues like this anymore," Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford wistfully stated as he gazed over the intimate crowd huddled together inside the cozy Belsaco Theater in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 11.
Lately, the GRAMMY-nominated folk-rockers have grown accustomed to performing in front of thousands, evidenced by their two-night sold-out stay at the Hollywood Bowl this past weekend. Sandwiched between their Bowl shows was a special opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of the foursome thanks to a unique program titled "Live From The Artists Den." Now in its fifth season, the program presents concerts with artists in non-traditional and often historic performance settings across the United States. The featured concert from the program's latest stars, Mumford & Sons, will air primarily on local PBS stations across the United States in 2013.
After casually taking the stage dressed in their Saturday clothes (Marcus performing sans his usual vest) the band jumped into "Lovers' Eyes," a track from their most recent release, Babel, which debuted at No. 1 in September selling an impressive 600,000 copies.
The connection Mumford & Sons have developed with their fans in the short time they've been around was extra palpable on this night. As the band played their first single from the new album, "I Will Wait," the crowd committedly sang along to the chorus. And in the end, when the band chanted "raise my hands," everyone raised their hands. Looking around the audience, it was clear there were parts of every song that at least a handful of fans had made their own. For some, it was the lyric, "It's not the long walk home that will change this heart/But the welcome I receive with a restart," taken from "Roll Away Your Stone" from 2009's Sigh No More.
In one of the night's many instrument changes, banjo player Country Winston brought out a lap steel guitar for the somber "Holland Road." The band switched things up again on "Lover Of The Light," which featured Ben Lovett, who's usually hunched over his bright-red keyboards, on grand piano and Mumford, who's usually placed front and center strapped with an acoustic guitar, on drums.
They moved away from production altogether for an unplugged version of "Timshel," for which the band made a deal with the crowd — they would perform without microphones if the crowd listened without their camera phones. And it worked. In fact, I don't think the audience brought out their phones again for almost the remainder of the evening. Standing just inches away from the crowd, the four-part harmonies solemnly echoed: "You are not alone in this/As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand."
As the evening drew to a close, Mumford's familiar finger-picking opening to the GRAMMY-nominated "The Cave" filled the venue and the happy ears in the audience. As they exited the stage they kept their eyes on the audience, as if attempting to take a mental snapshot of quite possibly the smallest crowd they will ever perform for again.
"I Will Wait"
"Roll Away Your Stone"
"For Those Below"
"Little Lion Man"
"Lover Of The Light"
"After The Storm"
"Awake My Soul"
"Ghosts That We Knew"
"Dance Dance Dance" (Neil Young cover)
"Below My Feet"
"Where Are You Now?"
To catch Mumford & Sons in a city near you, click here for tour dates.