Live Review: Mumford & Sons

The Cluny, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Interview For NSR:

21st September 2009

Gone are the stereotypes of middle aged, grass chewing, check-shirted men finger picking banjos to the delight of a gaggle of flowery dresses. Mumford and Sons are surely the figurehead to a new generation of lively folk acts, armed with beautiful vocal harmonies, talented musicianship and mood-altering, poetic lyrics. This is by no means a ‘scene’ more a community of musicians who join each other on tour and contribute backing vocals more often than an England football team on a novelty tournament song.

Tonight is a welcomed return for Marcus Mumford and Co, with various sound issues marring their last visit to Newcastle at an intimate Cumberland Arms gig. They announce their arrival with a hushed, almost acapella version of ‘Sigh No More’ before breaking out into ‘Awake My Soul’ which does more than just wake a dozen members of the crowd who seem intent in barn dancing, and strangely pogoing their way through the set.

Latest single ‘Little Lion Man’ is greeted with a merry chant along from the sold old crowd and looks set to become the bands anthem, the sort of song fans will pester them to play throughout their career. Indeed the band, like a conductor, has the crowd in their complete control. When the instruments cut out the gathering fall silent, hanging on every lovelorn word. Then as the banjo, drums, bass and guitar take over, the audience can’t help but stomp their feet along. The set finishes on the perfect final song, ‘Dust Bowl Dance’. A personal favourite of mine, it’s a track which comes into its own live with Marcus Mumford putting any of his remaining energy into the drum kit.

Tonight we’re treated to a set which plays almost the complete track listing of M&S’s debut album ‘Sigh No More’. A fitting name for an album which, live, perfectly expresses both a broken heart and sorrow before offering hope and optimism. Although the album has received mixed reviews, Mumford & Sons show tonight their gift for storytelling and performance which leaves the crowd spellbound and promises much for their future.

Christian Allen

Mumford and Sons Myspace

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You Tripped Over My Heart

Rose Elinor Dougall - Fallen Over

Rose Elinor Dougall must already be fed up of reviews linking her current project to her pokadot past as the lead member of the Pipettes, alas the transition from band to solo isn’t as easy as Phil Collins would make out. The Pipettes arguably were the first act of recent times to acknowledge and embody the sound of pre-rock/mid-60s girl-group pop which has now proved so fruitful for Duffy, Amy Winehouse and co. They brought back a forgotten girl group sound and made it contemporary and fun again before falling apart after one album and a handful of singles. They became perhaps a little too twee, almost a novelty act for the indie crowd. However Rose Elinor Dougall has successfully disassociated herself from this with her own work and this latest offering due out in November.

The first to go solo, I originally became aware of Dougall’s work with her previous single “Stop/Start/Synchro” and “Fallen Over” can only further her fan base. A nostalgic pop track, Dougall’s vocals float over the descending bassline and pacey drums perfectly as she sings of the difficulties that come with a relationship. How we often stumble, but these troubles are continually worth it.

Dougall has been careful to take her time with her return. Quietly making sure her sound grows organically with limited release singles, bedroom recordings and the like. She admits this single itself has gone through a few incarnations before its recording and right now she sounds like she's trying to find her own sound and style. But this single is encouraging stuff and with an album ‘Without Why’ due out next year, it seems Rose Elinor Dougall will dispel any notion of the difficulties that come with going solo.

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Here's a shameless plug for mine and Chris' band Candidates.

We recorded a couple of demos a few weeks back, and so we just thought we'd post them up here for you to listen to :)

01 My First Pair Of Sondicos by Candidates

02 Procrastination by Candidates

Let us know what you think in the old comments section there.

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