Five Reasons Mumford & Sons Doesn't Deserve The Backlash

Mumford & Sons - Pretty okay!
[We're not sure a seemingly uncontroversial band has ever generated as much controversy as Mumford and Sons have in their brief stint as folky chart-toppers. To celebrate their show tonight at Desert Sky Pavilion, we looked for voices from both sides of the (surprisingly heated) Mumford & Sons debate to argue each side of the question. For the Con side, click here. - Ed.]

Mumford and Sons is impossible to avoid. If you're not hearing their songs, or experiencing their fashion sense first-hand, you're hearing the songs that have found radio success in their wake, or seeing your friends' new mustaches. For that reason, if nothing else, the backlash was inevitable.

But under all the grave social import, they're really just a band with some good pop songs who've done some neat things and become inconceivably successful. Here are five reasons they haven't earned the backlash they've received.

5. They put on a great live show.

They don't necessarily seem like they'd put on a good live show--we just don't yet have a mental framework for dealing with a bunch of guys who wear steampunk outfits putting on a great live show--but they've earned some strong reviews from Up on the Sun (and our sibling blogs) since they began touring the states a few years ago. Here's us talking about their appearance on the Railroad Revival Tour in Tempe back in 2011:

Even though the show was great up to that point, the night was really all about Mumford & Sons. There's something particularly spiritual about their live performances... There was no doubt that they successfully made a great impression on everyone who came out to Tempe for the biggest stop on the Railroad Revival Tour. They packed the house. Even people who lived at the apartments next to the concert site flooded the buildings' rooftops and balconies. Eventually people were filling the streets outside the fence as well. Everyone came out to see a soulful performance, and that's exactly what they got.

Here's RFTMusic describing a similar experience that year:

While Mumford's vocal intensity builds, the melody trickles to near-silence. Then: the switch. The strumming picks up pace, the crowd starts clapping, and "Country" Winston Marshall - natty rattail and all - breaks in with a double-time line on the banjo he's only been ogling until now.

Commence the first of a thousand rising wordless choruses, generating a googolplex of "ah-AH"'s. Keyboardist Ben Lovett and bassist Ted Dwane waltz with their instruments and add unconstrained harmonies, all while somehow wearing self-deprecating grins. It's a singalong, clapalong, stomping free-for-all.

This is not a jam band, folks. The songs end, and abruptly. Cathartic blue balls ensue. Repeat.

Mumford and Sons followed the same script that it has since its first St. Louis show a year ago, at a sold-out Off Broadway. Last night, the band's hybrid folk and themes of feel-good martyrdom translated easily to a crowd of 2,000 without losing energy or intimacy.

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