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

29 January 2019 | 2:34 pm | Tom O'Donovan

"A special moment in an evening that continued to deliver."

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There is no doubting English quartet Mumford & Sons’ widespread appeal in Western Australia - demonstrated by Perth’s jam-packed RAC Arena as some choice solo musicians set the mood for the evening.

First on the card was Melburnian Gretta Ray, who captured the attention of the early arriving revellers from the outset with her warm and inviting vocal delivery through well-penned numbers Time and Radio Silence. Blessed with swags of stage presence, the charismatic Ray is one artist to keep an eye on.

Londoner Michael Kiwanuka bleeds old school soul, with elements of folk and jazz stylings. His soaring vocals were complemented by a gun backing band, resulting in a wonderful listening experience. The 31-year-old crooned on Cold Little Heart and Love & Hate and proved a worthy choice of support.

Breaking into the commercial scene in the late noughties with Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons veered swiftly from their debut’s minimalist campfire-folk vibe to a primarily electric stadium rock one on subsequent releases. Tonight it was the latter that would dominate the set.

Radio staple Little Lion Man was an early highlight as frontman Marcus Mumford implored the audience to sing along to the chorus each time followed by the dashing fingerpicking of Winston Marshall on banjo. Babel and Lover Of The Light had the audience in raptures as things went up a notch mid-set.

Ray returned to the stage to add her own flavour to Forever; an earnest ballad from 2018’s Delta, with her accompaniment a well-cast choice. Mumford and his men performed Timshel stripped-back and unplugged, with the band members huddled around a lone microphone. This was a special moment in an evening that continued to deliver.

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A daring take on Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire confirmed the band can make an iconic tune their own, this time with the returning Kiwanuka adding extra vocal gold to the Boss’ tune. I Will Wait and The Cave added to a night in which we could all be proud of how far our favourite sons have come.