With Mumford & Sons going electric, The Lumineers have wasted no time in snatching up the folk rock crown. With their latest album Cleopatra topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic the band are sitting pretty atop their new and duly deserved throne. They have come a long way since their massive hit ‘Ho Hey’ and their rapid rise shows no sign of slowing. But topping the charts is one thing, taking that album out on the road is another. I caught them at Manchester’s Albert Hall to experience the rustic warmth of their inviting Americana first-hand.
I couldn’t have picked a venue more gorgeous and in keeping with the spirit. Made from a converted church the massive organ and stained glass windows really set the mood and felt like a welcome change from the bleakness of most venues. Opening act Andy Shauf really suited the atmosphere, his music being an odd combination of melancholy and uplifting. It was like some curious lovechild of grunge and the Grateful Dead. He had a great band behind him to create some rich musical textures but sadly Andy’s vocals tended to get lost in the mix.
The show was a little late to start which only made the packed out crowd even more eager. The Lumineers came on ready to please and gave all their biggest hits in rapid succession with ‘Cleopatra’, ‘Classy Girls’, ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Ho Hey’ all one after another. Frontman Wesley Schultz then asked for phones and cameras to be put away and for the most part the crowd obliged and got lost in the music. This was one of very few of his interactions with the crowd as the band were busy playing just about every song from their two albums. Even deep cuts like ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Problem’, which they performed without microphones, were rolled out to delight the Albert Hall.
You didn’t need to be upfront to see the joy on their faces as they performed. They clearly love what they do and the crowd loved it too, singing back every word. They seem so down to Earth and completely in it for the fun of it, the fact that they have one of the most successful albums of the year thus far is just a happy bonus. It’s strange to hear such simple and traditional music in a large venue but in many ways it just seemed so right. My only criticism is I would’ve liked the hits to be a bit more evenly dispersed throughout the setlist, but they performed both hits and the lesser known tracks with the same conviction. Having heard their new album and seen them live I am in no doubt that their star will continue to rise and that they will be playing bigger and bigger crowds across the world, with everyone involved loving every minute.