Mumford & Sons step effortlessly into bigger, bolder shoes on the first night of Bilbao BBK Live

9th July 2015

Marmozets, Future Islands and Disclosure also appear.

“Is this the beginning of your festival?” Rebecca Macintyre asks a frenzied crowd, all packed like Spanish sardines in a searing hot tent. “Have the fucking best time of your lives!” she yells, “Be safe.” Three years of gradually levelling up to bigger festival stages have served Marmozets very well, and though chaos is unfolding in front of them, they’re a band in meticulously precise control. Watching Macintyre at the helm is something quite special, too. Half-way through ‘Weird and Wonderful’ - the title track from the band’s debut album - she hoofs a beach ball back into the crowd with a perfectly deployed karate kick, without even missing a beat.

Across the site on Bilbao BBK Live’s main stage is another exceptional frontperson, Samuel T. Herring. Marvelling at the sunshine, and crouching down to reach out to his front row with a meaningful clenched fist, there’s no limit to the connection that he’s able to form with his audience. Right to the back of the field there are well-rehearsed chest-thumping impressions going on, as ‘Balance’ swoops and dances and ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ captivates Bilbao and leads it into a mass sing-along.

Despite having a name that sounds like a furniture removal firm, Mumford & Sons step up effortlessly from a decent band, to a headliner. Carting along a massive lighting show and some new-album anthems tips them over that tough-to-cross line, and old favourites like ‘Little Lion Man‘ and ‘Roll Away Your Stone‘ become larger still. Ted Dwane’s double-bass face - gurning and frowning - is something to behold, and Marcus Mumford looks visibly surprised at the crowd singing along to every word. There’s a stark, clear divide between material from their tweed waistcoat banjo era - ‘Babel’ and ‘Sigh No More' - and newer stadium-ready songs like 'The Wolf,’ but Mumfords pull off both.

It's left to Disclosure to wind things down. Things don’t quite go to plan. They’re plagued by sound problems, and the stage is plunged into eery silence and darkness several times over the course of the set. Brand new song ‘Hourglass’ - which features rising pop talent Lionbabe - sounds euphoric; until the sound cuts out again, at least. Another new one, ‘Bang That,’ switches up Disclosure’s bleeping hallmark into something more fearsome and stomping. Though a fair chunk of the crowd wanders off halfway through to drink kalimotxo instead, those who do stick out the dodgy sound-system catch snippets of Disclosure at their best.

Photos: Sarah-Louise Bennett

Tags: Mumford & Sons, Bilbao BBK Live, Festivals, Reviews, Live Reviews

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