Glasgow SECC 05/12/12
The support act for Mumford & Sons’ UK tour is the country and roots band Dawes. The band has great enthusiasm towards the Glasgow audience, frequently encouraging the crowd to remember their name so they can return and play again. The audience’s response is not so eager. Country music is not as celebrated or listened to in the UK to in comparison to Dawes’ native America, and this is visible in the audience’s reception of the band. Dawes return at a later point in the show to support Mumford & Sons in two of their songs, with Marcus Mumford stating that they are ‘the best band in the world.’ This is a remarkable overstatement. The music is not particularly original, nor does it excite the audience enough to dance. Their music is not bold enough or boisterous enough to maintain the crowd’s attention and at times, when the four men play about with their instruments rather than perform songs, it becomes mere background to the increasingly drunk crowd banter.
There is no denying that Dawes are talented musicians and make catchy songs that would most likely go down a storm with an American audience, but their genre seems a little lost on a British crowd and comes across as cheesy at times. They are at their best when performing with Mumford & Sons; the lead singer Taylor Goldsmith shines in the moments when he sings solo with both bands behind him. It is hard not to feel that Dawes are in fact ‘getting by with a little help from their friends’, although perhaps not in the way they’d intended. However, the sheer joy they seem to take from the collaboration is infectious and who can blame them.
Managing to make a freezing December night in Glasgow’s SECC feel like a midsummer’s festival evening is no mean feat, but if there is one band that can pull it off, it’s Mumford & Sons. With their sing-along choruses, heartfelt banjo playing and fairy-lights, the crowd can’t help but enjoy themselves, making the size and look of the venue irrelevant from the start.
Marcus Mumford wears the obligatory waistcoat, and they open with the title track from latest album Babel, setting the scene for the rest of the evening with their wildly passionate instrumentals and choruses that the crowd join in with ecstatic enthusiasm. This seems to be their greatest trick, despite the entire audience upping the tempo and the band trying desperately to pull them back, it’s impossible not to sing the words you know, make up the rest, and to feel like you’re simply doing so with 12,500 of your closest friends, four of whom just happen to be on a stage. You will however be brought sharply back into reality by the intermittent throwing of pints into the air.
The band swap and introduce new instruments throughout the evening, making them seem both beautifully flawed because of the lengthy pauses between songs and leaving you in awe of their sheer skill. They finish with a thunderous version of ‘Dust Bowl Dance’, reflecting a darker side to the usually jovial sing-a-long songs; but return to a manic welcome from the anticipating audience. Waiting with baited breath, the crowd are surprised to turn round and see that the four lads have moved to a small stage in the middle of the room. This is a nice touch, yet the intended calm of the song, ‘Timshel’, does not impact on the audience as effectively as would’ve been hoped; it is just too quiet to be heard over the thick Glaswegian accents that echo throughout the song. The boys then travel back to the stage to blast out an old favourite: ‘The Cave’. This would’ve been a brilliant ending, but they invite the support acts to join them in one last song, a cover of ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’, which you can’t help feeling is more fun for the bands and is a little lost on the audience. These slight flaws are irrelevant though; they produce a raucous party that only leaves the audience wanting more.