REVIEW: Laura Marling + Mumford + Sons @ The Roundhouse, 9 July 2010

by Louise Bruton 12. July 2010 10:22

There is a gentle hum of chatter  and excitement, like a distant swarm of vuvuzelas, as punters queue at the door of The Roundhouse to see on 9 July Mumford and Sons.

The venue is packed as I arrive slightly late, missing the opening act The Dharohar Project but arriving just on time for Laura Marling.

The songstress walks onstage shortly after a mini-documentary called 'Goodbye India' plays across the big screen which shows highlights from her time in India last December with the main act, Mumford and Sons.

Marling plays an amalgamation of new songs from her latest album, I Speak Because I Can, and old songs, asking the crowd to join her in a chorus of whistling. However, Not So Modest Marling announces that she is a fantastic whistler so we are not to feel any pressure as we try to keep up with her.

The structure of The Roundhouse take the shape of an amphitheatre. Therefore, it carries sound. This does not work in Marling's favour as she continuously asks us to stop talking so that we can hear her music.

Despite competing with the people chatting at the bar, Marling's voice envelops the venue and as she exits, she announces that she will see us later on in the night.

In the interlude, another snippet from 'Goodbye India' is played.

There is a theme to tonight. And that theme is India. And we may as well be in India with the intense heat.

Mumford and Sons take to the stage in a uniform of plaid shirts, biker boots and bakerboy hats and start off straight into 'Sigh No More', the opening track of their album.

For a band that have just one album under their belt, they have developed a very large and very loyal fanbase as every word is mirrored back to the band from their adoring fans.

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Their performance is flawless apart from the sound malfunction during their new song 'Lover Of The Night', which sounds ever so slightly like 'Fairytale Of New York'.

Their songs are formulaic. No matter what way the songs begin, slow or fast, there is always a lift near the end, not unlike a Westlife key-change, which sends the crowd into a Nuremburg-esque frenzy.

Leading man Marcus mentions their trip to India once more and explains that they looked at their sojourn as a cultural exchange between England and India. This trip resulted in an EP with a group called The Dharohar Project from Rajasthan, India.

In a set-up similar to a Nativity Play, Marling and The Dharohar Project squeeze into every inch of available space with Mumford and Sons onstage to perform four songs from their forthcoming EP.

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The constant reclarification of the differences between the two cultures was unsettling as it triggered a similarity with 'othering', Edward Said's theory of creating and "us" and a "them".

Regardless of that,  these four songs are the best songs of the night. The harmonious clash of Marling's vocals with traditional Indian singing on top of the Mumford's twangy rock-pop is so distinctly different and familiar at the same time.

It is a gathering of undeniable talent and with the ease that all groups, particularly Mumford and Sons, took to the collaborative process, the electricity of their live performance will hopefully ignite something in their listeners at home.

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Mumford and Sons:
Sigh No More
I Wake My Soul
Roll Away Your Stone
White Page Blank
Nothing Is Real (New Song)
Timshel
Little Lion Man
Lover Of The Night
Thistle and Weeds
Lover Of The Night
Cave


Dharohar Project, Laura Marling and Mumford And Sons:
Devil's Spoke / Sneh Ko Marg
To Darkness / Kripa
Anmol Rishtey
Mehendi Rachi

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