After waiting in fear of thunderstorms all day, 15,000 people gathered at Hoboken, NJ’s Pier A to witness the clouds parting just in time for Mumford and Sons to take the stage. The show marked the first stop in Mumford and Son’s American tour, and they seemed genuinely thrilled to be starting things off in New Jersey, with their horn section even playing a rendition of “New York, New York” between the set and encore.
Before delving into concert talk, it’s worth noting the venue itself. Pier A hasn’t been used as a music venue before, and I have no idea why—it’s amazing. The Manhattan skyline perfectly framed the stage, the park itself held the crowds well, and the concessions had their own space off to the side which was surprisingly convenient for everyone. Kudos goes out to the crew who had to mic and light the venue for the first time; they did an immaculate job. Well done Jersey, well done.
California country rock band Dawes opened for Mumford, getting the crowd energized and their focus away from the ominous clouds spitting drops. They cracked out songs from both of their albums, with “If I Wanted Someone” and “When My Time Comes” eliciting the loudest response. By the end of their set, which also included approximately three ripping guitar solos and some insanely great drumming, ponchos were off, umbrellas were down, and the threat of rain was replaced by a clear sky and a rainbow over mid-town. Sign from God—we were meant to enjoy this show.
Mumford And Sons sauntered on stage right on time, and opened with the track “Lover’s Eyes” off of their new album Babel due out September 23. Several more tracks from the new album made their way into the 90 minute show, including the live debut of “I Will Wait,” a heart-wrenching ballad causing many women, and a few men, in the audience to swoon. Of course, the set was full of tracks from Sigh No More too, like the jig-inducing “Little Lion Man” and “Winter Winds,” though with the shoulder-to-shoulder nature of the show, it was more like a slight side-to-side-hands-in-air movement than a jig. Banjo player Winston Marshall took advantage of all of his free space on stage however, and was working some intense hip-action.
The guys of Mumford And Sons were satisfyingly on point with their harmonies, most evident in the slower ballads like “Timshel,” which was almost appalling in its perfection. I have never heard 15,000 people as quiet as when Marcus Mumford effortlessly played his intro to “I Gave You All,” his raspy voice soaring right to the back of the crowd. We were putty in his hands.
Not much band chatter until closer to the end, when there was a full out conversation about the Olympics and patriotism, and Dawes. “They’re really nice guys, they’re just a shit band,” joked Marcus after showing off some of his Olympic-caliber Tae Kwon Do moves moments before.
As the night drew to a close, and it was clear that even Mumford and Sons aren’t allowed to break the 10 p.m. noise curfew, they wound down the show promptly but loudly, blasting out “The Cave,” encouraging one final dance party. As the band exited the stage, a brief, yet wonderful fireworks display over the Hudson river capped off the night at precisely 10, just to make sure we all knew there was no chance of a second encore.