British folk rockers Mumford and Sons returned to Chicago Sunday night and played to an energized crowd at a sold-out Riviera Theater. The quartet seems to have made a name for themselves here in the states, selling out every show so far on their current U.S. tour and scoring Billboard success on the back of their debut album, Sigh No More.
With their four-part harmonies and bluegrass instrumentation, I was curious how the band's sound would translate live, especially in a larger venue like the Riviera. After taking the stage, Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane opened with the album's title track, and the passionate crowd sang along with every note. They followed with "Roll Away Your Stone" and "Winter Winds." With only one full album to choose from there weren't many surprises in the setlist, but the band did play a select few new songs that the crowd responded to nicely. Each song started off slow and built intensity until the peak of the crescendo, which immediately got the fans in the balcony off their seats and dancing. Between songs, the band used their English charm to speak with the crowd as if they were in a small pub back home. It made the show feel intimate and personal.
From the first strum of Mumford's acoustic guitar on the quartet's best known song, "Little Lion Man," the crowd erupted. They sang along with each and every word, matching the intensity of the band members on stage. During the peaks the audience was jumping and dancing so much that I could feel the floor below my feet move. It’s amazing that a band made up of acoustic guitars, banjos, keyboards, a kick drum and a traditional stand up bass could generate this kind of energy. I guess it proves that you don't have to follow the industry status quo to be a successful band - you just have to be good at what you do. Mumford and Sons definitely have that part covered. Let's hope they can keep this momentum with their follow-up album.