The folk-rockers look on the bright side as they storm through an epic set in Crystal Palace
A glance at the weather forecast on Saturday morning must have had The Lumineers nervous – with their largest-ever UK show set to be a washout. But although some things are out of your control, it’s how you respond to them that counts.
Over a decade ago, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites landed on their band name by accident. A confused emcee at a toilet venue in Jersey City got his days mixed up and introduced the wrong band as they took the stage. But Schultz and Fraites looked at each other and shrugged – it didn’t matter what people called you as long as you knew who you were. As if to make this point, they embraced the accident and adopted the name. Multiple platinum albums and sold-out stadium tours later, The Lumineers are a band that truly know who they are and what they have to give their audience.
The family crowd in South London had been in singalong mode since Ella Henderson bounded onto the stage that afternoon. Her crowd-pleasing set climaxed with hit ‘Ghosts’ – a song now older than a lot of her fans in the audience. Then came Rag ‘n’ Bone Man who blasted out a set of soulful stompers and quickly won over the crowd – who needs the sun when you can bask in the warmth of that smile? Claiming he’d never performed for such an appreciative London audience before, he nevertheless jokingly refused to play ‘Human’ until the end of his set “in case we all f*cked off”.
Now thoroughly warmed up, the audience waited patiently under their umbrellas. As The Lumineers sauntered onto the stage, a cynic could be forgiven an eye roll at all the braces and fedoras. But when Schultz humbly thanked the crowd for sticking out the weather in his charming, Matthew McConaughey-esque drawl before treating us to an impromptu performance of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’, the scepticism melted away.
The band continued to battle the elements with the hit ‘Cleopatra’ – a blend of Blonde On Blonde era Bob Dylan’s mercurial lyricism with floor-shaking Springsteen arena rock – before a surprisingly early appearance of their breakthrough hit ‘Ho Hey’. As Fraites came out from behind his drumkit, tambourine in hand, to share the spotlight with Schultz, the sun broke through the clouds for a beautiful moment that reminded everyone of the transcendental power of live music. Umbrellas went down, hands went up, and the entire park sang and stamped along.
The set flew by in a whirl of heartfelt fan favourites (‘Flowers In Your Hair’, ‘Ophelia’) alongside new material (‘Where We Are’, ‘Remington/Reprise’), all dynamically delivered by a band who do all they can to connect with their audience. From Schultz lying on his back on the catwalk as he sang the haunting ‘My Cell’ to Fraites dashing around the stage, hitting anything (and anyone) with his tambourine; they played the crowd as expertly as their set.
As The Lumineers continue their Brightside World Tour, their brand of earnest, energetic folk-rock will undoubtedly provide fans with a ray of hope, whatever the weather.
Photo credits: Rachel Deeb