My first memory of Mumford & Sons was hearing their first ever play on BBC Radio 1 back in 2009. From that first chord in ‘Little Lion Man’ I was in musical love. Since then I’ve been travelling the world with the band which isn’t as stalkerish as it sounds, I promise.
It all began in 2015 when I found myself with months of savings to purchase a car. Just as I found my perfect vehicle, Mumford released their new album ‘Wilder Mind’ which meant they would surely be touring soon. PLOT TWIST: They were… but only in America! I felt like I was faced with two choices; A) to forget about saving for a car and start the adventure B) be sensible, get a car and then wait it out for a UK tour to be announced… I’m not a very patient person so it had to be A! Who needs a car anyway?
With a list of US tour dates to choose from, I was drawn to New York because much of the album was influenced by NYC with tracks like ‘Tompkins Square Park’ and ‘Broad-Shouldered Beasts’ referencing Manhattan. It was also the first place they were to play since the album was released, so I knew it would be special.
Flight booked, hotel sorted and 20 days to plan a New York adventure! I’d been a couple of times before but there was still so much I wanted to see and do. Coney Island being one of the sights, which just so happened to be where the Mumford were playing. It was like it was meant to be.
My flight landed on the day of the gig and I’d planned to get to the venue nice and early so I could get a good spot. What I didn’t anticipate was a two hour queue in customs at the airport. Nightmare! I could literally see the skyline from the windows and like I said, I’m not a patient person, so this felt like torture! I then had to get a train into Manhattan and check myself into the hotel. I literally dumped all my bags onto the bed and onto the subway I went. I’d never been this far out in New York so it was exciting seeing some of the sights of Brooklyn as the D train made its way past Ditmas Avenue (Ditmas is also a track on Wilder Mind!)
I arrived at the MCU Park which is a stadium typically used for baseball games, but tonight was to be graced with Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane. Being impatient, I decided to skip the sights of Coney Island and to make my way into the MCU Park in hope that I could get a good spot. As soon as I walked through the gates it was apparent that people in New York are a little more laid back than me… Luckily there was hardly anyone else around, so I grabbed a beer and made my way to the front row. Awesome!
As I watched the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen go down over Brooklyn, the support act, The Maccabees, said goodbye to the crowd. In-between sets I got talking to a lovely couple from Michigan and shared stories about the band with them both who then went on to tell me they travel the USA by going to Mumford & Sons gigs. Genius I thought!
The band finally walked onto stage with Marcus shouting “HELLO NEW YORK, IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK!” The atmosphere was something completely different to what I had ever experienced at any UK gig… Everyone there was out to have a good time, there was no pushing or shoving and surprisingly no drunken idiots to ruin it. After gradually losing my voice, the gig came to a close with fireworks and one of my favourite songs from the new album. Best. Night. Ever!
When I returned home from 3 days of sightseeing in the Big Apple, my friend in Australia said to me “If Mumford & Sons ever announce a tour in Australia and play in Melbourne, you have no excuse not to visit me!” Oh how we laughed, but I promised I would visit if that were to happen. Then the very next day the lads did just that. It’s like they knew! They were to be playing in November, so I stuck to my promise and booked my flights. You may think I’m mad travelling to the other side of the world just to see a band but it’s not just about that, it’s about experiencing music in a totally different way while being able to explore a new city at the same time. After all, music is universal. If you have a favourite band, I highly recommend adding ‘see my favourite band in a new country’ to your bucket list in 2017! Who knows where the music could take you.