A Mumford & Sons performance feels like a church service. As frontman Marcus Mumford stands on the pulpit belting out their signature folk-rock anthems, transcendence washes over the audience. Opening up iHeartRadio’s inaugural ALTer Ego concert at The Forum in Los Angeles, the British quartet fed off the crowd’s energy and gave it back in spades. As sweat stung your eyes while you stomped your feet and screamed Mumford’s emotional lyrics at the top of your lungs, a shared vibration spread throughout the venue, uniting everyone from the front row to the very back.
Opening up with the marching “Believe,” Marcus Mumford, keyboardist Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, and bassist Ted Dwane performed their mix of rock, bluegrass, and folk with the breakthrough “Little Lion Man” and “I Will Wait.” The multi-talented Marcus then showed off his talent as he played drums while singing “Lover Of The Light.”
The group then invited Maggie Rogers to contribute her beautifully haunting vocals to “Awake My Soul.” Rogers rose to fame after a video of super producer Pharell Williams was left speechless and on the verge of tears during a critique at a New York University Master Class she was attending. Her voice effortlessly weaved together with Marcus's before the entire band harmonized the goosebump-inducing lyrics "awake my soul." Before arriving at The Forum, she tweeted, “stepping onto the biggest stage I’ve ever played tonight with my big brothers @MumfordAndSons for @iHeartRadio” The band met Maggie after they took note of her talent and invited her to perform at the Latitude Festival in the UK which they curate.
The ALTer Ego performance also marks Mumford & Sons first time back in the states since September 2017, having spent the last year working on new material, although keyboardist Ben Lovett said that there was “nothing recorded” backstage while speaking to ALT 98.7’s Harms backstage. The group has been focusing their efforts on Gentlemen Of The Road, their live promotions company and record label where they are putting on festivals in smaller cities and giving spots to bands that supported them throughout their career.
Mumford and Sons are arguably one of the biggest bands in the world. Emerging on the scene in 2007 as indie rock’s popularity seemed to dim as hip hop and EDM skyrocketed, their folk rock and bluegrass-style played on banjo, double bass and kick drum, didn’t seem to make sense. Inspired by Bob Dylan, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Emmylou Harris, their authenticity shined through and their emotional, rousing anthems connected with a wide audience that was tired of the studio-perfected gloss of programmed drums and synths.
They ditched the historical garments and sound on their third album Wilder Minds, trading in their banjos for electric guitars and their grandfather’s vest for leather jackets. They took a risk by breaking out of the limitations they had accidentally set for themselves and have continued to evolve.
As their performance started to come to an end, Marcus Mumford ran all the into the back rows of The Forum like an evangelical pastor spreading his gospel while performing “Ditmas.” They invited songwriter and member of another band on the packed lineup, Aaron Dessner of The National, who produced Wilder Man and ushered the band's sonic transformation, to the stage.
Closing out the set with the voice shredding passion of "The Wolf," Mumford & Sons proved why they are platinum selling juggernauts of the genre. They set the mood for the rest the talent-packed ALTer EGO, which brought together the best names in Alternative Rock including Beck, Spoon, The National, Walk The Moon, Dashboard Confessional, and Cage The Elephant.
Photo Credit: Wes Santos and Rob Hoffman