By Chuck Cox
Any time a band does something a little bit out of the ordinary that leads to taking the mainstream by storm seemingly overnight, there are going to be plenty of detractors. Such is the case with Mumford and Sons. Adding fuel to the hate fire is the fact the band’s music pretty much all sounds the same, which even the biggest of fans — myself included — can’t deny. They’re still good, sometimes great, songs, in my opinion.
And there wasn’t anything wrong with the music itself when the band made during its stop at Gexa Energy Pavilion on an uncomfortably warm Wednesday night. The gig was originally scheduled for June, but it had to be pushed back after bassist Ted Dwane had to have emergency surgery for a blood clot on his brain. It was also the first time Mumford and Sons had played Dallas since it was at House of Blues’ Cambridge Room in 2010, which meant it was the first really big-time gig for the band here.
One would think those two factors would have led to a show with a little bit of extra oomph from the band. However, Wednesday was a whole different story.
Despite a huge crowd that packed out the venue, Mumford and Sons, armed with several backing musicians, only seemed to have any kind of energy in small spurts. “Going through the motions” might be too strong of a term for the show, but it was a lot more “let’s get this over with” than “let’s crank it up another notch.” I realize, based on the crowd response, I’m going to be in the minority on that opinion, but that’s the way it felt to me.
The saving grace was the songs didn’t suffer because of it. And when the band played its biggest hits — “Little Lion Man,” “Lover of the Light,” “I Will Wait,” and rousing set closer “The Cave,” it felt like more of what I was expecting for the entire show. Another highlight, which was also a nice surprise, came during the encore with openers Mystery Jets and Johnny Flynn joining the headliners on stage. Mumford had been doing Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” at previous shows, but instead did the Boss’ “Atlantic City.” Perhaps the coolest thing about it was it didn’t sound like the more formulaic songs from the rest of the nearly two-hour set. And it was really great.
It was also interesting to find out Flynn and his band, the Sussex Wit, helped Mumford and Sons cut its touring teeth by taking the band out for the first time.
When it was all said and done, I was glad I finally got to see Mumford and Sons live. And I’ll go see the band again, especially since I want to see if what I saw Wednesday was the norm or just a bit of a down night. Until then, I can at least enjoy a quote from Marcus Mumford from Wednesday’s show: “Texas is a f***ing interesting, wonderful place.” Amen to that, Marcus.