Live Review: Mumford & Sons, Gretta Ray

21 January 2019 | 1:03 pm | Jessica Higgins

"Fans left satisfied and restored."

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Gretta Ray kicked off the second night of Sydney performances for Mumford & SonsDelta tour at the Enmore on Saturday night. The young Melbourne-based artist, who is becoming known for her insightful lyrics and award-winning songwriting, is a perfect choice to complement Mumford & Sons. Performing with her three-piece band, Ray played Towers, a song about putting people on a pedestal in relationships. She and her guitarist harmonised beautifully. It was a pleasure to hear Ray’s lyrics so distinctly and to be able to connect with them.

When chatting with the crowd between songs, Ray was charming and candid about exaggerating her experiences as artistic license on songs like Long Distance. Regardless, the writing is still astute and poignant ("Just don't say something’s over when it never had a start"). Gretta Ray has natural, unaffected grace on stage and the range of her smooth vocals paired with great songwriting ensures her star is well and truly rising.

Mumford & Sons came out on stage to rapturous applause and opened with their latest album's title track, Delta, starting gently and building to a roaring crescendo in true Mumford fashion. They then played Slip Away, a rousing track also from the same record, before giving the banjo more of a spotlight in Holland Road.

Mumford & Sons played a selection from all their albums, including Monster from 2015’s Wilder Mind, telling the crowd they hadn’t played it in years — an aside which revealed that each show they play is unique. Marcus Mumford did the musical equivalent of a fake throwing a ball for a dog by playing a few unrecognisable chords before giving us Little Lion Man –  a song so familiar it now runs in most people’s blood. Mumford’s anguished vocals and passionate, frenzied strumming was a spectacular and sensory experience.

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It felt like Mumford was visibly delighted by the fans and conveyed his appreciation with genuine warmth before requesting that everyone put their technology away for one song. The sold-out venue went completely silent as four band members gathered around one microphone for an unplugged Timshel. It was breathtaking. One fan couldn’t help but interrupt and say what we were all thinking, "That was fucking beautiful, boys," before he was roundly hushed.

The band then gently coaxed us out of our reverie with Believe, the synth hovering lightly behind Marcus Mumford’s musing lyrics before they let Winston Marshall loose to shred on electric guitar.

After playing a few more songs, the band left the stage without too much fuss before coming back to perform two more achingly beautiful unplugged songs (Where Are You Now and Sister). Partway through the crowd received some unspoken message and joined in, adding to the already exceptional experience. They performed a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, before closing out a fantastic night with the big sound of The Wolf.

The well rounded coverage of all albums ensured that fans left satisfied and restored. There's not many musicians who can play songs that make your heart ache at the same time as filling it up, but Mumford & Sons can.