Neil Renton reviews the Mumford and Sons frontman's intimate return to Edinburgh where it all began for him in the '00s.
There are only a few feet that separate Bannermans pub and The Caves venue in Edinburgh. Yet for Marcus Mumford, they must seem like a lifetime apart. It’s the former where when studying in the capital city he launched the indie folk group Mumford and Sons into the public and into the hearts of millions of music fans worldwide.
And it’s the latter where he returned to Auld Reekie to play an intimate gig. Backed by Assai records it was a chance for Mumford to showcase material from his debut solo offering (self-titled).
As soon as the doors opened a full forty-five minutes before he was due to perform, the venue filled. Couples took selfies in the church-like venue before they shuffled forward to get as close as they ever could imagine to a musical hero.
It was a typically reserved Edinburgh crowd, the kind that carried plastic pint pots in hand and a pocket full of apologies for strangers bumping into them. Mumford grinned his way onto the stage and in front of an adoring crowd. He appeared relaxed and in a good-natured mood.
He wasn’t here to crack witty one-liners. He was here to acknowledge his esteemed past while demonstrating his promising future. You could hear a plectrum drop throughout his set. Mumford managed to melt the cold November air and the hearts of those in attendance with the regret-filled ‘Only Child.’
Sign No More track ‘Awake My Soul’ brought about a few recognised nods of the head from the audience. Mumford might not have had singer Clairo to duet with on ‘Dangerous Game’ but it didn’t slyer in the way of him pushing his vocals to the staggering limit.
He stopped ‘The Cave’ to reminisce that the first time he’d played it was at Bannermans in a venue dripping of sweat and condensation. The Taylor Swift cover ‘cowboy like me’ was halted as Mumford noticed an unwell fan in the audience.
He finished with ‘I Will Wait’ in which the respectful crowd found their voice and joined in to carry the anthem to the giddy heights of magnificence. And it was done. Those who arrived for doors opening waited longer for the concert than it actually lasted.
The crowd dispersed back into a busy Edinburgh Saturday afternoon, to be greeted by Christmas shoppers kneecapping them with bags of purchases. Meanwhile, Mumford was away to a show in Glasgow. Leaving behind him recently made memories next to the ones from the very beginning of his career.