The anticipation that’s been building for fans of the Lumineers finally came to a head last Thursday evening. The American folky-rock heroes, who burst onto the scene in 2012 with radio favourite Ho Hey, kicked off their Cleopatra World Tour in Bristol, promoting their second record of the same name. Crowds were gathered outside the O2 Academy for the sold out gig from a little after 6pm and there was an excited buzz about the place.
The band came on stage to roars and cheers promptly at 8.45pm – perhaps the expectant atmosphere became too much to bear, or perhaps they were just keen to get the old tour motor ticking over again. Whatever the reason, they certainly seemed happy to be there! Set opener Sleep on the Floor, the first track on the second album, saw the band lay out their cards early on. Like the song itself the gig was definitely about the new album, but with a tone that very much included the sound of their debut.
In fact, the catchiest of the new songs all saw an outing straight off the bat. Cleopatra and Ophelia got good reactions and got the crowd going early on, while Angela followed in quick succession. The Lumineers were very humble yet certainly knew how to get the crowd going. Vocalist Wesley Schultz kindly said that Bristol was the only date they had to cancel last time, and now they were back on the first night of their new tour. That sense of gratitude never faltered throughout the whole gig, even when playing the big hits; Ho Hey and Submarines took the roof off, almost!
Highlights were definitely Ho Hey, Dead Sea, and a humorous mash up of Lovely Girl and Big Parade, which saw the band members halting in the middle of the performance, like worn out wind-up toys. Certainly no one trick ponies, they showcased all sides of their abilities, from foot-stomping, thigh-slapping country ditties like Classy Girls, to quiet, reflective new numbers like Sick in the Head.
There was a good mix of old and new songs that sounded great when played alongside one another, gelling well to form an enjoyable, cohesive set. It has to be said that however you experience The Lumineers, whether on record or in a live setting, their music creates an irresistible feeling of nostalgia. Whether it’s the way they play, the lyrics they write, or the memories that their songs evoke, the sickly sweet nostalgic feeling begins in the stomach, rises up through the chest, setting everything inside aglow with pleasure, until you just can’t help but grin. It just happens. And that is by no means an insult; I think it’s a damned good thing for a band to take the listener somewhere else, especially if it removes them from that god-awful venue that is the O2 Academy.
Overall it was a good gig, that was clearly well planned and carefully considered by the band. If you’ve got tickets to the sold out shows across the UK and beyond, you won’t be able to fault their live performance. Album two, Cleopatra, may be a bit of a slow burner, yet this is a band that are well practised in the art of touring and with a solid second album under their belt, what’s not to enjoy?