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As Brisbane five-piece Art of Sleeping wrapped up their set with Crazy, lead singer Caleb Hodges promised to give it his all; “I’ll sing my titties off for you!” I think it’s fair to say this was a sentiment shared by all who took to the stage for the highly anticipated Mumford And Sons Gentleman On the Road Tour at Sydney’s Domain.
The sublime Meg Mac, certainly held nothing back. Opening with Be My Friend she rewarded the early punters brave enough to face a very long day in less than ideal festival weather with a killer vocal performance. Her refreshingly unique sound and raw talent showcased through tracks such as Known Better, Grandmothers Hands and Roll Up Your Sleeves had the poncho-clad crowd suitably awed.
The up-beat and quirky vibes of The Jungle Giants provided the perfect distraction to take people’s minds off the serious rain clouds lurking around the edges of the Domain. It was great to see Skin to Bone get the dance floor started nice and early in the day. Frontman Sam Hales even cracked out the flute for Lemon Myrtle. She’s A Riot, I Am What You Want Me To Be and Kooky Eyes kept the party going before their super high-energy set came to a close with Every Kind Of Way.
The Vaccines picked up right where The Jungle Giants left off, dropping a frantic string of tunes with Teenage Icon, 20/20 and Melody Calling getting an early run. The boys from Mumford And Sons made a very welcome special guest appearance for Give Me A Sign before Dream Lover and If You Wanna rounded out a perfectly chaotic show.
Jake Bugg slowed the pace a little with his heartfelt acoustic set, not to mention his seriously strong sweater game #NailedIt. Jake had no time for chat belting out dirge after dirge beginning with There’s A Beast And We All Feed It, Trouble Town and Saffron. The brewing dark clouds provided the perfect backdrop to the moody sentiment behind Two Fingers, Slumville Sunrise, Storm Passes Away (if only!).
Alas, after on again off again drizzle throughout the day, the heavens finally opened during Future Islands turning the grounds into a fully-fledged mud bath. TBH it’s kind of hard to put into words exactly what went down on stage. Let’s just say these guys certainly put the alternative into alternative-rock. Samuel Herring’s dance moves were beyond fierce and the vocal theatrics throughout tracks such as Light House, The Chase and Spirit were borderline scarily impressive.
Protection from a full day of bad weather is a lot to ask of your standard poncho, which meant by the time Mumford And Sons took to the stage, they were met with a very bedraggled looking bunch of punters. After opening with Snake Eyes, Little Lion Man really lifted the mood, no matter how sore and muddy your trotters are it’s impossible not to get your jig on to a tune like that. Blame it on the banjo.
Just Smoke and Awake My Soul got a run before Marcus mixed things up hitting the skins for Lover Of The Light. Talk about seasoned professionals. Everything about these guys is so incredibly polished – yet there’s still that rawness and edge that comes from them giving every track their absolute all.
It’s a varied set list with a range of old and new tracks demonstrating their ability to nail the stripped back and intimate folk ditties like Ghosts That We Knew and Cold Arms which the four of them sung huddled around the one microphone, through to festival anthems including The Cave, Roll Away Your Stone and I Will Wait.
In a touching tribute after the tragic events that have unfolded over the past few days, the boys flew a French flag and dedicated Believe to the people of Paris.
An epic rendition of Dust Bowl Dance rounded out the set, with Marcus completely destroying the drum kit to a backdrop of fire works – great to see the boys fully embracing their rock and roll edge.
Hot Gates and The Wolf went down a treat for the encore before all performers were invited back on stage for an all-in sing-along of With A Little Help From My Friends – the perfect way to wrap up a perfect day (despite less than perfect weather that is).