Mumford and Sons kicked off their UK Tour of Two Halves tour in Torquay on Wednesday evening showcasing their September release of ‘Babel’, the band’s second studio album. The Princess Theatre, situated on the family resort’s seafront, is normally the home to musicals, comedians and the odd appearance from ‘70s and ‘80s popular music icons, so to have one of the “biggest bands in the world today” appear in the little Devon town had caused great excitement in the county since the announcement in September. Tickets sold out in minutes leaving hundreds of disappointed locals whose frustration was only fuelled to discover so called "fans" were reselling at hugely inflated prices running into several hundred pounds each, reportedly to the anger of the band.
Winston "Country" Marshall greeted the crowd early on in the evening to introduce Piff the Magic Dragon and his companion, Mr Piffles, the world’s first levitating Chihuahua. His mixture of magic and slightly warped, grumpy humour went down a storm with the crowd even though he himself thought he was an odd choice of support for a band.
Los Angeles band Dawes followed and received a great reception from the crowd who enjoyed their Laurel Canyon folk rock. Front man, Taylor Goldsmith, explained to the excited audience that they had been touring with Mumford for several months in all sizes of venues but how special they felt it was to be in a “room like this.”
After the interval when the audience had fuelled up with ice-creams and beer, Mumford and Sons took to the stage but had to wait a few moments to allow the crowd to express their raucous adoration before breaking into the album’s title track ‘Babel’. Even though the majority of the crowd remained seated at the 1100 capacity theatre during this first song, at times, Marcus’ voice was drowned out with everyone singing along. Possibly giving those who were still itching to stand up the go ahead, Marcus announced, “you can do whatever you want, sit down or stand up” at which point the whole audience stood up clapping, thrusting their fists and dancing along to single ‘I Will Wait’.
The four members of the band closed up, unplugged their instruments and moved to the front of the stage during Timshel which they played to a hushed crowd who Marcus asked of “as we’re doing this without any technology, perhaps you could do the same and put all your cameras away”. Many did as they were asked, but no doubt this will reach YouTube soon.
The whole band were in good humour and told the audience that it was “great to be home” even though they are from London, they realised by playing down here, just how many of the songs had been written in Devon or Somerset, so it felt like the songs were “coming home.”
During ‘Awake my Soul’, the band was joined by Dawes, and a few minutes later, onto the stage walked Piff and Mr Piffles to an enormous cheer. This obviously tickled everyone on stage especially Marcus, who at times couldn’t sing due to a fit of the giggles.
One fan eventually got his wish when ‘Dust Bowl Dance’ from the band’s first multi platinum album ‘Sigh No More’ was played.
The whole evening was full of whoops, chants and “I love you Marcus” and the atmosphere was electric for the whole of the evening and everyone left with a smile of their face realising they had witnessed something special.
Words and photos by Meg Hope