Mumford & Sons - The Cockpit, Leeds
“And they’ve been working all day, all day, all day!” Why the Cat Stevens classic ‘Matthew and Son’ is buzzing around head while I’m on the bus to The Cockpit is beyond my comprehension but there it is, stubbornly refusing to leave. Hopefully the evening’s entertainment will erase it from my thoughts.
On entering the venue, I hear the strumming of an acoustic guitar which means that, at well before 8pm, we are being treated to one of The Cockpit’s infamous early starts. My apologies therefore, to Pete Roe for only hearing one and half songs of his set - which did actually sound pretty good.
Unfortunately, we're then subjected to the full set from King Charles. OTT anthems with fretwankery worthy of a bad 1980s metal band make for an interesting, if not particularly enjoyable, 30 minutes. The sight of their frontman swinging from the stage rigging was vaguely entertaining for a short time and the image of his split crotch does its best to dislodge old Yusef from the brain.
Despite only forming in 2008, Mumford & Sons have been touring regularly, increasing their fan base each and every time. Their upcoming debut album, Sigh No More - well recieved on this very site by Adrian Mules - is a thing of beauty so the anticipation is high.
As on the album, ‘Sigh No More’ opens the set with some lovely harmonies set to gentle guitar backing, building to a gloriously toe-tapping conclusion. A similar formula follows for ‘Awake My Soul’ but these are no one-trick ponies, the set chock full of bluegrass, country and classic folk songs about love, regret and despair. The brilliant ‘Little Lion Man’ is already a fan favourite, a classic sing-a-long in the making and the the fact they can drop it in so early shows their confidence in the rest of the catalogue.
In between songs we get some humorous insights into life on the road, eating habits, haircuts, nudity and the loveliness of Hull (sic). We also learn the band are currently engaged in a moustache-growing competition. Ten dates in, appearances suggest the experiment is not proving wildly successful.
A downbeat run-through of ‘After The Storm’ and ‘Thistle & Weeds’ is followed swiftly by ‘Roll Away The Stone’, a hoedown that would fit perfectly on the True Blood soundtrack. A new song ‘Whispers In the Dark’ is then showcased and dispels any concern about the quality of future material. Finally, Marcus Mumford takes his place behind the drums for final song of the night, 'Dust Bowl Dance', a plaintive, harrowing tale that explodes into a glorious cacophony before an exquisite finale brings the night to a perfect ending.
The freshness of Mumford & Sons suggests they'll be at the forefront of the folk revival for many years to come. And did they manage to expunge the Cat from my head? Sure did.