There’s a unique kind of anticipation for a concert where the band who normally sells out stadiums and arenas decide to play in a much smaller venue. It’s almost secretive. Before you’ve even attended, it feels special and exclusive. Too good to be true.
Undeniably, I am extremely terrible when it comes to anticipation for shows. I follow the setlists leading up to the night, I check to see if bands regularly play my favourite songs, I check when a band last played my song and what it would take to play it tonight. I’m constantly creating moments about the night that I hope will occur. It builds excitement for me, but with it comes risk.
Mumford and Sons gig at the Enmore Theatre fits the bill of the above to a tea. The previous night, the band had played a near sold out Qudos Bank Arena, more than 10 times the capacity of the intimate Enmore Theatre. Immediately on buying tickets my anticipation went into overdrive about how special this gig could be. Scenario after scenario of what might occur, what headlines would come after etc. It was the perfect setting for the perfect band to fulfil all expectations.
This is the risk. In your mind, you’ve played out just how good the concert will be. Very rarely will you be right, which was exactly what happened to me. I thought Mumford and Sons were primed for an intimate acoustic-heavy gig with all the big early career favourites taking the spotlight. Not to be, tonight.
Make no mistake – this was a great show by all accounts. High energy from the band, tidy musicianship and some of the loudest crowd vocals I’d heard in some time. It had all the elements – but I had already ruined it for myself well in advance of the lads taking the stage. Personally, I found the song choice poor, with the band choosing to focus on the big electric numbers instead of their acoustic work, which I still maintain would have made an even better show. Some of the electric songs are superb – ‘Tompkins Square Park’ and ‘The Wolf’ deservedly made an appearance alongside a host of other big hitters, but to me they weren’t as well received by the crowd. This was only solidified by the absolutely immense roar from the crowd on the opening chord of ‘Little Lion Man’, Mumford and Sons first dip into their debut album – however not until the 7th song in the set. Enmore Theatre was the perfect venue to let those classic early tracks breathe. A missed opportunity.
Notable song omissions included ‘Roll Away Your Stone’, ‘Babel’, ‘Winter Winds’, and personal favourite ‘Sigh No More’. In place we got obscure cuts such as ‘Monster’ and ‘Darkness Visible’.
To the boys credit, they did touch on their strongest qualities on a couple of occasions. The ‘no technology’ version of ‘Timshel’ was stunning, and saw the four-piece sing with no microphones to a crowd in darkness with not a mobile phone in sight (by request of the band). It was as moving a performance as I’ve ever witnessed. That’s the type of show I expected, and this performance alone proved that could have been delivered. Tonight, not to be.
Putting aside all my pre-conceived expectations, it really was a fantastic performance. Mumford and Sons highly infectious brand of positive energy and sing-a-longs is rare. Please don’t play ‘Picture You’ ever again though.
Mumford and Sons, Enmore Theatre, January 19th 2019
- Slip Away
- Holland Road
- Guiding Light
- If I Say
- Little Lion Man
- Tompkins Square Park
- Timshel (no technology version)
- White Blank Page
- Forever (with Gretta Ray)
- Picture You
- Darkness Visible
- Where Are You Now? (unplugged, huddled around one microphone)
- Sister (unplugged, huddled around one microphone)
- I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover)
- The Cave
- I Will Wait
- The Wolf