Out of all the venues Mumford & Sons could have chosen to perform at, never in a million years would you imagine them picking a small seaside theatre in the English Riviera.
The English folk rock band have become so big that when they do perform it’s usually to thousands of fans, but proving how much the band care about the music instead of how much money than can make, they are making a brief return to a select few intimate venues.
And one of the most random dates on The Tour of Two Halves has to be Torquay’s Princess Theatre. Tickets were snapped up instantly and those lucky enough to have got hold of them knew that would they would be witnessing was one of the momentous gigs talked about for years to come.
Seeing the band walk on stage in the traditional theatre was a sight to behold with a huge buzz of excitement radiating from the crowd. Most people managed to stay in their seats for first song Babel from the band’s new album then as soon as lead singer Marcus Oliver Johnston declared, “You can do what you want: Stand up or sit down” everyone got to their feet, and enjoyed I Will Wait.
What followed was a succession of one amazing song to the next from both the band’s debut album and also second album, Babel, which became the fastest selling album this year in the UK and was also the biggest selling debut of any album in 2012 in the US.
What makes the music of Mumford so incredible is the lyrics and music. The power and emotion of their incredibly crafted songs couldn’t be more evident than when the band bravely stepped away from technology and literally performed Timshel unplugged with no microphones and cables. For once nearly everyone gave the band the respect they deserved with a quiet hush and it was one of those rare, special moments you never want to end.
Continuing to pull at the emotions was the likes of Ghosts That we Knew before banjo player Winston Marshall declared the three things that had worked out about Torquay: The Faulty Towers connection, football pundit Helen Chamberlain being a celebrity supporter of the town’s football club, and “great” local band Metronomy. It also emerged their local is actually quite good with Marcus revealing some of their songs were written in Devon and Somerset.
Another dose of humour was added to the evening with a surprise guest from Piff the Magic Dragon, who walked on stage during Awake My Soul eating an apple and holding his beloved dog Mr Piffles. The pair recently performed in Exeter and the band are well-known fans of the act.
Despite performing a long set, the encore seemed to arrive far too soon saving the heartfelt I Gave You All and then amazing The Cave until last. Right from the start to the very end the band really did give it their all and even declared it might not be the last Torquay has seen of Mumford & Sons.
Undoubtedly these are one of the best live bands around and hopefully they will be on the scene for many more years to come.