Mumford & Sons, Fanfarlo: O2 Academy, Liverpool


You say ‘hoe’. I say ‘down’.

Never one for barn dances. Nor really Irish whiskey singsongs. Certainly not one for crusty gatherings either.
Yet tonight we’re surrounded by dreadlocked ‘hippies’ wreaking of sweat who are engaged in a type of bad barynya which looks like they’re juggling a small turd in their undies. This is until they pause to raise their iphones in unison.
To be fair the Academy prepped us in advance of tonight’s show putting on a small bunch of chimney sweeps collectively known as Fanfarlo who whiff of C-Grade Arcade Fire minus the urgency or exotic rockism.
They tootle and screech their many instruments while braces and patience is stretched before the O2 is blasted with the waft of a thousand fart-generators being turned up to the max. The effect is like standing behind the Glastonbury Festival poop-truck as the driver presses ‘blow’ rather than ‘suck’.
Speaking of which, Mumford & Sons. Having crept quietly under the radar they’ve built an impressive following and in tonight’s cowshed-cum-Academy it’s clearly apparent we’re among thousands of calves hungrily suckling at the udders.
Sadly, while all around erupts to the likes of Little Lion Man, I can’t help but wish for the Jolly Green Giant to emerge from a nearby sweetcorn field and flatten this out of date Levellers convention with a well-aimed cob.
It takes a reddening of the lights midway through and a severe change of pace for attentions to at last be fixed as Thistle & Weeds injects a salty dustbowl grind that the likes of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have been employing more authentically for years with their soundtrack endeavours.
For all his bouyant enthusiasm and kindly charisma, Marcus Mumford is far more affecting when letting his sorrow pour forth rather than joking about football scores and their ‘more talented and more handsome helper, Adam.’
There are however, undeniable melodic winners such as The Cave and Winter Winds in their locker, while an impromptu Neil Young cover of Dance Dance Dance makes for welcome and surprising interlude.
But for all the clamour, it’s hard not to think this is a band that’s desperate for your heart and soul without actually possessing much themselves and their search for glory leads but to one place – a headline slot at V Festival.

*Pictures courtesy of Sakura Zilla