Mumford & Sons – Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Mumford and Sons, Michael Kiwanuka & Gretta Ray – Sidney Myer Music Bowl – 22/01/2019
Written by Liam Head
Photos by Vincent Shaw in Brisbane.
The first night of two consecutive Mumford and Son’s sold out shows at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl was an intriguing combination of pyrotechnics and electronic synth tunes from the bands recently released album Delta mixed with the banjo-smacking, knee-slapping crowd favorite classics from the bands 10 year discography. By the end of the set there could be no doubt of the endearing qualities of the songs from their earlier days as each one was sung back to the band with vigour.
Homegrown singer-songwriter Gretta Ray started proceedings with Melbourne based singer-songwriter treating the growing crowd with her honest lyrics and raw vocal ability. The crowd relaxed in view of the disappearing sun as Gretta serenaded the reposed on lookers. The set concluded with her landmark track Drive which turned out to be Gretta’s second last performance of the night as she would later join the Mummies on stage to perform the song Forever.
The next act upped the pace with the ensuing guitar riffs a highlight of the set. However even they were no comparison to the bands primary instrument Michael Kiwanuka’s voice. When 50% of the band is sporting an afro it was evident that the crowd would be treated to some soul music mix, no one was left disappointed as the smooth vocals were combined throughout the set with plenty of funk, described best as a mix between Marvin Gaye and Van Morrison. The mellow vibe of the performance was juxtaposed with the strong lyrical punch as Michael addresses themes of racism throughout the set, no more so than the performance of Black Man In A White World.
Following a two-year hiatus from Australia, the time has come for Mumford and Son’s to play to 12,000 hopeful attendees who have by now crammed into every spare centimeter of the music bowls famous hill. The set begins somewhat slowly with Delta and Slip Away from the bands recently released album, Delta. But the show quickly gathers momentum and by the time the band throws themselves into Little Lion Man (the song Australia voted as the best songs of 2010 in the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown) the singing and dancing had well and truly begun. Marcus Mumford commands full attention and is well supported by the other band members Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane. At times the band members top out at 9 muscicians with almost every instrument imaginable making an appearance at some point. The band changes pace at the end of the main set with the quartet gathering around a single microphone for a three-song acoustic performance in the centre of the venue, much to the delight of the crowd on the hill who have prime view. This is followed by a perfect encore performance to conclude the 90 minute performance with consecutive renditions of I’m on Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover), The Cave, I Will Wait and The Wolf, a clear highlight as the crowd danced sensing the curtains were closing on a wonderful evening.