MUMFORD & SONS, Roundhouse – Evening Standard, 25 Sept 2012

Conveniently, Mumford & Sons got to play their iTunes Festival show on the day that their second album was released.

That meant plenty of new songs, which was no great hardship for those who are familiar with the formula — slow starts, followed swiftly by double-speed banjo and Marcus Mumford’s thumping foot drum.

The quartet continued to rouse the rabble, with four galloping horses on the backdrop behind them and Ben Lovett thrashing about so wildly that I feared he would headbutt his keyboard into two pieces. Whispers in the Dark was typically raucous, led by Mumford’s yearning rasp.

They looked united on stage, lined up in a row, sharing the between-song chat, a solid union that almost silenced the enthusiastic crowd during an unamplified Timshel. They followed that with a rollicking Roll Away Your Stone, demonstrating the well-practised way with a crowd that has seen them earn spots backing Bob Dylan at the Grammys and playing to Barack Obama at a state dinner.

Though they are heading for our arenas soon, here they eschewed the fireworks and costume changes of the biggest acts — not so much as a fresh waistcoat. Fairy lights across the room bathed it in a warm orange glow. A fiddler and horn section occasionally joined them, but mostly they were the same as ever.

Their farmers’ market folk is often criticised for lacking authenticity, but up close it was easy to be swept along by the stirring melodies of Lover of the Light and the new single, I Will Wait. It may be a formula, but the sums add up.

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