Some of them spike violently, like a mountain range reaching for the sky.
Some of them crest gradually, like waves breaking on a shore.
But, practically to a song, there is a rise and fall, a whisper yielding a roar — a clear and definable rhythm, in other words, to the music made by Mumford & Sons.
In its way, it is patently formulaic and predictable — rather like a heartbeat, almost — but it has a visceral impact upon an audience, many of whom were clearly craving such comforts Monday at Gexa Energy Pavilion, seeking to wrap themselves in the band’s songs like the $50 throw available at the merch table.
The near-capacity audience was only too happy to clap, sing and shout along to selections from all three of the British band’s studio albums, including last year’s Wilder Mind, which made up a healthy chunk of the almost two-hour set.
Singer-songwriter and frontman Marcus Mumford further endeared himself to the audience by ripping on our neighbor to the south five minutes in: “You’re already a [expletive] of a lot better than Houston.”
Mumford and his bandmates, who numbered as many as 10 altogether at various points in the evening, have moved away from the twee, turn-of-the-century preciousness that marked the tours for the band’s first two albums, 2009’s Sigh No More and 2012’s Babel.
Now, the set design, racks of lights and lasers flickering to and fro, is meant to evoke the sleeker, more straightforward style found on Mind, even if the loudest cheers Monday were for the folkier material, which had previously been accented with Edison bulbs. (There remains a delightful catharsis in belting the profane chorus to Little Lion Man with several thousand people.)
The band, its skills only sharpened in the not-quite three years since its last trip through town, is a paragon of performance, spinning out tightly knit songs like Broken Crown (which Mumford said they hadn’t played in four years), Broad-Shouldered Beasts, Lover of the Light or Ditmas, which found the denim-clad Mumford sprinting through the crowd all the way to the jam-packed lawn and back again. In a nod to Mumford & Sons’ rustic roots, the core foursome even gathered around a single microphone to perform Cold Arms.
Formulas, like cliches, work for a reason — people like them.
It’s as true for Coca-Cola as it is for Mumford & Sons. The band has figured out which ingredients work best, honed its presentation and delivers the product with panache.
Hearing lines like “You saw my pain washed out in the rain” might inspire a cringe, but, as a glance to your left or right will attest, someone else is just waiting for that wave to break over them.