Live Review: Mumford & Sons, Michael Kiwanuka, Gretta Ray

16 January 2019 | 4:07 pm | Zara Gilbert

"The lengthy applause that sees the boys of stage is clear in its response: Brisbane will always have them back."

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Almost ten years to the date of their Brisbane debut at Laneway Festival, Mumford & Sons are back again, now boasting four albums and a highly anticipated arena tour. With the release of their 2018 album Delta, the band have taken on a new, synthy sound that fans and critics alike have been somewhat on the fence about. Walking into the Entertainment Centre tonight, it looks as if half of Brisbane has turned up to see for themselves what Mumford & Sons have become after more than a decade of making music.

Opening is Australia’s own Gretta Ray. The young Melbourne-based singer-songwriter is clearly stoked to be here, tonight being her first ever arena performance. She opens with When We’re In Fitzroy, the first track off of her 2018 EP, and her performance is beautifully simple and refreshingly earnest. Her smooth, buttery vocals bring a new level of emotion to crowd favourites Radio Silence and Drive, coaxing a gentle sway from the growing mosh.

Following Ray is English soul musician Michael Kiwanuka. He jumps straight in, kicking things off with 2016 hit One More Night. Kiwanuka and his talented band demand the audience’s attention from the first note. Their set is punctuated by funky bass lines and impressive guitar solos. His songs’ simple, repetitive lyrics combined with their undeniably funky rhythms create a kind of catchy, toe-tapping goodness reminiscent of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. After a couple of songs, Kiwanuka asks the crowd, "Are you ready for some soul music?" before launching into a captivating rendition of his revered hit Black Man In A White World. Kiwanuka's set is a shining example of real soul music in today’s day and age from a thoroughly entertaining live performer.

Mumford & Sons grace the stage after a short wait and waste no time reminding Brisbane what kind of band they are. Launching straight into new hit 42, leading man Marcus Mumford sings, plays guitar and drums all within the first five minutes. The crowd are stomping, clapping and shouting along to this new Mumford sound in the same old Mumford style that we all know and love. Not a band to do things by halves, Mumford and bandmates Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane are joined on stage by five other musicians to bring the huge folk-rock sound they are known for to life. The bounds of Mumford’s energy are seemingly limitless as he runs back and forth, up and down the stage, moving from instrument to instrument, all the while leading the crowd through classics like Little Lion Man, The Cave and Lover Of The Light as well as newer hits such as Beloved and Believe. Towards the end of the show, they lose the bells and whistles and treat the crowd to an intimate rendition of Timshel. Gathered around one mic at the end of the catwalk, Mumford, Marshall, Lovett and Dwane share a special moment with the help of just a guitar, a banjo and the voices of half of Brisbane. There is something special about Mumford & Sons; a combination of what their songs are and the way they perform them that unites people in a way that only folk music can. They close the show with their 2018 album’s title track Delta and a classic confetti finish, announcing that as long as we’ll have them, they’ll keep coming back. The lengthy applause that sees the boys of stage is clear in its response: Brisbane will always have them back.