Mumford & Sons at Leeds 2010
If only the NME/Radio 1 tent had the interior capacity of the Tardis. Early on Sunday evening, folk-rock prodigies Mumford & Sons drew such a crowd that the tent could have been filled at least twice over. You had to pick your way through hundreds and hundreds of seated fans in the surrounding areas outside, all getting as close to the enrapturing sound as possible. In all honesty, they could have easily taken a slot on the main stage. If you did make it inside, there was the overwhelming sense that this had been the set everyone in there had been waiting for all weekend.
It was to bated breath and starstruck faces that the beautifully stripped back opening harmonies of 'Sigh No More' soared back to reach as far as Mumford & Sons crowd did. It felt as if time had stood still and it made the most perfect introduction to what would be one of the most enthusiastically received sets of the festival. The band's ardour and rich golden warmth in the rustic banjo and mandolin in tracks like 'Roll Away Your Stone' flooded everyone's consciousness with effulgent light. They quite simply had an astounding effect on their audience. The thousands packed so tightly within the tent were all bouncing up and down with the most infectious and jubilant high spirits of the weekend, and freely offering the most rapturous cheers a band could ever wish to hear.
'Winter Winds' and 'Little Lion Man' were sung with sheer elation to the adoring crowd, including the presence of some exuberant crowd surfers. I think this is the first time I've seen such a fantastically boisterous reaction at a folk gig. It became something of a really moving and stunning performance. At one point, it was unclear whether it was a lighting effect, but it looked like a strip of the most glorious glowing afternoon sunshine cast itself across the stage, thoroughly encapsulating everything about this set. The romantic in me likes to think it was the latter.
Marcus Mumford took to the drum kit for a performance of one of two new songs included in the set list, 'Lover of The Light', which was met with great positivity. The pace was brought down a notch by songs 'Thistle & Weeds' and 'White Blank Page', exploring the beautiful haunting qualities capable with the purity of the vocals and the folky simplicity of their sprawling and organic instrumentals. 'The Cave' was the perfect choice to close a perfect set, every single person in the tent being forced to jump up and down whether they wanted to or not, such was the momentum of the masses.
Altogether, it was one of those sets you know would make any people watching it on television at home wish that they had been present to see.
Bands like Mumford & Sons keep music beautiful.