(PCM) Looking around the Susquehanna Bank center for the sold out Mumford & Sons, Ben Howard, and Haim show I am suddenly reminded of how music can make people feel. I see laughing and smiling people all around me and despite the everyday trials and tribulations in life, when people attend a show we are all able to escape and lose ourselves even if only for a little while within the melodies and chords being put forth from the stage.
Mumford & Sons are riding high off the success of the latest album release “Babel” which also earned them a much deserved Grammy win for Album Of The Year! The last time I saw Mumford & Sons perform was at Bonnaroo 2011 and I can say without a doubt they always bring 110% to each and every performance. Opening with fan favorites such as “Babel” and “Little Lion Man” the audience went absolutely wild. Overhead string lights gave the feel of a raucous back-yard BBQ in summer despite the freezing February temperatures.
The band added in a brass section and strings when performing songs such as “Winter Winds”, using absolutely gorgeous lighting and a very clean and open stage set-up. It was like a glorious jubilee of sight and sounds…just marvelous. Mumford & Sons showcase perfect harmonies and such a wonderful spirit exudes from the stage during their performance especially evident during songs such as “White Black Page” which happens to be one of my personal favorites.
Opening band Haim boasts some truly incredible vocalists! Reminded me of a hard rocking Journey with a little bit of Michael Jackson thrown in for good measure. The tone quality of this band was just incredible! I loved it! If these ladies are not signed…they deserve a deal pronto! Very catchy songs…look really young, but make quite a large sound that is also truly unique. Their thoroughly entertaining set ended with a phenomenal drum solo, something that really seems to be crowd-pleaser these days! I loved every minute of their performance.
Simplicity was key with Ben Howard’s performance however there was nothing simple about the voice that came pouring forth from the stage. It is absolutely haunting and his ability to use the guitar as both a string and percussion instrument on opening song “Keiko” was mesmerizing. He reminds me of artists such as Eric Hutchinson or Snow Patrol. He has a very clean and hypnotic vocal skill. Ben appeared very humble and thanked the crowd between all songs. Ben’s music was equivalent to an emotional journey and I very much appreciated the raw honesty and feeling that made up his performance. He provided a healthy mix between happy and more forlorn tracks. It was amazing to see someone who seemed very shy and soft spoken between tracks, just let loose and start singing with a voice huge enough to blow away the whole room. I really loved songs such as “Keep Your Head Up” and “Only Love”. It was also just recently announced that Ben Howard has one two 2013 Brit Awards for Best Male Solo Artist and Best Breakthrough Act. Be sure to catch Ben on more U.S. tour dates throughout the year, including performances at Coachella on April 13 and 20, and Central Park SummerStage on July 29.
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Photography by: Ken Schuler