You know a gig has been a success when the chords of the final song are dying out before you even know what’s happened. Following the mellow crooning of support act Bahamas, The Lumineers burst on stage at the O2 Academy last Monday night and from start to finish the barnstorming energy and infectious rhythms of the folk group captivated and invigorated the entire room. I’ve never felt more laid back and transported at a gig on a freezing cold Autumn night.
The band rose to fame after the success of hit single Ho Hey back in 2012; but the group were so keen to distance themselves from this one-hit wonder style success that the song was performed early on in the set, with lead singer Wesley Schultz asking the crowd to put their phones away for the rest of the show. At first I was disappointed by this, but while the band did seem keen to get their biggest hit over and done with as soon as possible, it relieved the pressure in the room and allowed the group to get on with the rest of the set, showcasing some of their more underappreciated gems.
And it’s not as if the band are lacking in catchy songs to get the audience clapping and dancing along. The title track off their latest album, Cleoptara, is an infectiously foot tapping tune, while Sleep on the Floor had the entire venue singing along. Their debut self-titled album wasn’t neglected in the set list though, and classic stripped-back acoustic tracks such as ‘Flowers in her Hair’ and ‘Submarines’ were given their chance to shine. The band has an uncanny way of fluctuating between rousing sing-along hits and intimate folksy songs in minutes – they even ditched the microphones at one point and sang to the room with the tinkle of a xylophone as accompaniment.
While Wesley’s rasping southern vocals take the lead throughout the performance, band co-founder and songwriter Jeremiah Fraites bounced around playing the drums and other percussion instruments, getting the audience energised and ready to clap along to the beat. Meanwhile, cellist Neyla Pekarek provided a soulful and harmonious accompaniment to the set.
The band may have received some criticism for producing a sophomore album very similar to their debut, but this performance showed The Lumineers are moving above and beyond their original work, and are keen to ramp up the energy of their live set with an electric performance.
Infectiously toe tapping from start to finish, The Lumineers’ first gig in Leeds proved the band is heading for greater things.
(Images by Devon Handley)