The Eden Sessions have a happy history of support acts stepping on the hoary old headliners’ toes and wowing a youthful crowd – and Friday was no exception.
Mumford and Sons, a group of talented crossover folk musicians who are stepping squarely into the limelight since producer-genius Markus Dravs took them to Eastcote studios and knocked them into shape for their first album, stole the stage from The Doves this weekend.
There’s nothing wrong with the Doves – but by the time their set was over, you started to feel for them the way you’re supposed to sympathise with Michael Caine at the end of Alfie, as younger men were quite clearly stepping into their shoes.
Mumford and Sons are a band so new they’ve only got about ten songs. But nobody cared.
There was a thrill in the balmy Eden air as the four-piece slammed their mandolins through every track on the first album, whereas when the Mancunian indie idols took over, you were frankly underwhelmed by a sense of obligation.
It wasn’t a bad gig, and who knows, maybe something wasn’t too hot with the soundsystem: but the Northern rockers – never exactly perky back in the day – just came over as tired.
The old tunes seemed to be banged out dutifully, while when the new ones were thrown in hap-hazard, it just felt – well – a bit arrogant. The kind of thing you can do if you’ve an adoring crowd – but not if you’re sharing the spotlight.
Mumford and Sons on the other hand were a live revelation.
The four-piece’s playing is note and pitch-perfect – which may not be extraordinary in a rock band but is delightful in a folk group attempting all the speed and skill of bluegrass – a genre that brought them together.
Of course, they’re all terribly morally upright and soulfully tortured and outraged at humanity and I’d rather just hear the Pogues yell about whisky – but hey – they’re kids – they’ll learn. Especially when those big royalty cheques start coming in.