On the 4th of December a very special event took place at the Metro Arena in Newcastle it played host to the first arena show of The Tour Of Two Halves. Now the first half of the tour took the bands up and down the country playing in theatres, guildhalls, etc. This half takes them up and down the country playing to large audiences in the arenas, and this was a deliberate choice by the band as they have a real passion for seeing and playing in different venues and when you’re given the choice then why not? Joining them along the way will be a few of their friends from the music industry which tonight just happened to be Post War Years, Piff The Magic Dragon, and Dawes. Now I have to be honest due to a technical navigational error we didn’t quite make it in time to see Post War Years as by the time we got to the arena, dodged the religious guy handing out leaflets and inviting us to take Jesus into our hearts outside and then made it through security the final chords were being played by them and we had missed their set which was a little disappointing really as the very few bits we had heard sounded pretty good. Being quite used to the bit of a wait between bands as hard working crew run round on stage and set things up we started to head back to the foyer to peruse the merchandise stalls only to be halted mid step as Piff The Magic Dragon began his somewhat unique and…. Shall we say interesting…. Compare / Comedian / Magician routine in his quite breath-taking dragon costume and along with his faithful small dog, Mr Piffles, in a matching costume he sort of entertained the crowd while we waited for Dawes to come on… well we couldn’t take our eyes off him at any rate and it was only with the arrival of Dawes that the crowd somehow managed to shake off whatever spell he had entranced them under.
Now Dawes are a very impressive band, well let’s face it you have to be if you’re the main support for Mumford & Sons, and having had the chance to chat with Wylie a few weeks ago (read the interview) I was really looking forward to seeing them play live. You can really tell how much touring experience these guys have as they are completely at ease on the stage and even their grand opening being a little off due to the organ not being plugged in didn’t deter them in the slightest. By this point the arena was about half full with a few people drifting in and finding their seats during the set (apparently I wasn’t the only one with navigational issues) but were soon back on their feet and bopping along with the rest of us. You can see, well technically hear I suppose, why this band are one of the hottest coming out of America right now and I would seriously recommend that you get yourselves along to one of their own headline shows that they have somehow squeezed in amidst the tour with Mumford & Sons. Playing favourites such as‘A Little Bit Of Everything’ and the ever popular ‘Love Is All I Am’ really got the crowd in the mood and when Marcus Mumford joined them onstage carrying his drum for ‘When My time Comes’ it was obvious that the two bands have a strong bromance and was a really nice treat for the fans.
Not wanting to be hypnotised once again by the charismatic and slightly creepy Piff and Mr Piffles we headed for the main foyer and the bar before making our way back to the main arena and shuffling our way forward to find a good spot to watch the main event of the night. By this point the arena was full and when you have so many people who are willing to brave a very cold and wet December night you know the band have to be worth seeing and believe me they were. Some bands use loud noise heavy instrumentals and high octane antics to rev the crowd up but Mumford & Sons don’t do any of that, they simply play their music, and we loved them for it. Watching so much euphoric emotion ripple its way through thousands of people was a truly uplifting event. This band are truly phenomenal live and I can understand how their entire tour has completely sold out. Every single seat in the arena was full and the floor was packed to capacity (which for concerts is around 11,000 people). They introduced one of their best loved songs and also my personal favourite with the line “Who wants to dance?” and then they started into‘Little Lion Man’ and we were lost to them from that point onwards.
They played songs from their albums ‘Sigh No More’ and‘Babel’ which were all very well received by the crowd, bit of an understatement there, but really I just don’t have the words to describe just how incredible this gig was. Dawes made a special appearance on stage with them for ‘Awake My Soul’ as did Piff and Mr Piffles who chased several of the band members around the stage as they tried to continue the song. I really have to compliment the band on a fantastic show and can’t write this without mentioning the incredible light show that went with it from the laser display to the light bulb strings that gently glowed above our heads it really did add to the atmosphere. For their encore the band made a very special appearance in the centre of the floor where Piff had performed earlier in the night and after begging the crowd to be quiet they sang two really beautiful acoustic songs‘Timshel’ and another who’s name I didn’t quite catch. Even though I knew at the time I was surrounded by thousands of other people this wonderful encore really did give the impression of a much smaller and much more intimate gig.
I always enjoy going to gigs and seeing music live but this gig was very special, there was just something magical, about the music, about the atmosphere, that is really difficult to put into words. If you’ve seen them play then you will understand what I’m talking about, if you’re going to see them then you’ll understand soon enough. 9.4/10