LIVE REVIEW: The Lumineers, Bahamas, Eventim Apollo, London, 05/11/2016
It’s Saturday night at the Hammersmith Apollo and it’s the second night of indie-folk legends The Lumineers’ London dates. You can see how much the band have grown over the years from the full capacity of this beautiful theatre.
As well as The Lumineers, support act Bahamas has been an attraction in his own right on this tour. You may recognise his acoustic melodies from Ben Stiller’s independent film, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. Massive in the media music circuit, there was a definite buzz around this guy and we couldn’t wait to check him out live. Despite rumours that he wouldn’t be playing thanks to a Twitter slip on The Lumineers’ page, we were “jumping for joy” when Bahamas emerged and smashed their 7 song set. Favourites Lost In The Light and Can’t Take You With Me were like acoustic lullabies hushing the Eventim Apollo to a whisper. Bahamas’s voice is captivating and wholesome, like a rich coffee you crave in the morning to get you through a tough day. Stepping up the pep were toe tappers I Had It All and Caught Me Thinking. Despite the signature fret lick in both songs feeling a little lack in a live setting, the energy was amazing and Afie Jurvanen wooed and charmed the crowd with his whimsical guitar work and charming crowd chat. Humorously thanking London for being the city he got to “do his laundry and hot yoga,” and humbly thanking The Lumineers for having them he cooly stated, “it’s been a slice” and left his talented boots for the headliners to fill.
We always think you can tell alot about a band based on their entrance track, so when The Lumineers ran on “in the shadows” to The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, we were instantly sold. The stage was a folky paradise of organs lit by a ghostly white, like a gothic gospel church; a simple, but perfect set up.
Ophelia was the first well known track that had pepped up our ears, the piano parts spellbinding everyone. From the get go it’s apparent that although the focus is drawn predominantly to frontman, Wesley Schultz, each member and their variety of instruments are an integral part of this arena filling sound.
Their most famous track, Hey, Ho, has a chorus as catchy and simple as the title. The band ask the crowd to make a deal that if they filmed that song, phones went away for the night. “Just listen to the music” begged Wesley. It’s refreshing when a band is true to the humble nature of their sound, despite lavish settings. This authenticity embodied each song, all of which were an ode to a personal experience which Schultz had no qualms sharing with the crowd. It was like family folk story time, allowing their fans to go on a creative journey with them. This was highlighted by three songs in particular.
The slow, acoustic Charlie Boy was a tale of Schultz’s intelligent uncle who had the world at his feet, who sent himself off to war after being moved by a speech by JFK; he sadly never returned from battle. The most moving though had to be Gun Song, a personal story of the moment Schultz felt the loss of his dad, through finding a gun in his top drawer, which he never knew he had. The track was raw and through the echo of each guitar string you could feel the pain escaping. Every person felt every word of the almost acapaella, unreleased intro (that never made he album) that the frontman sung with everything he had. After wiping tears from his eyes, the rest of the band lifted the energy moving into the second part of the song.
The most unusual moment of the gig, a moment of rare musical beauty, was during Bad Seed. The band introduced the song as a testimony to how they started, building a following through house shows and how they missed that intimacy. Using his luscious looks, charm and god given talent, Schultz was able to silence the crowd in their thousands and sing the song acapella with the help of the band, who leant themselves as backing singer, whilst drummer Jeremiah Caleb Freights played a simple beat on an amp. This was truly amazing to witness until the crowd forgot that clapping and heckling “we love you” would silence the song. By the end everyone fancied themselves a singer and the whole thing turned into a messy sing-along, but it was worth a try.
What’s very rare from bands of this genre is energy. With slower material the magic can feel lost, but not with The Lumineers. Each member is a true performer and multi-talented; the band flirted around the stage playing each others instruments like it was pass the parcel. At one point the pianist switched mid-pedal change with the drummer, who produced a delicate solo – there was never a dull moment. Schultz’s footwork was reflective of the penguin in Happy Feet in the suavest way, whilst the bare-footed pianist turned into an Olympian and jumped onto the piano mid-song; the stage felt like a musical circus.
The energy switched when a classic Bob Dylan cover fell on deaf English ears. Winning the crowd back but keeping in line with the patriotic theme was Big Parade, dedicated to the US elections and their chosen candidate Hilary Clinton. Although they played a mix of old and new material the older songs translated best, except for Cleopatra which turned the place upside down into a rowdy, country brawl. The encore was short-lived as the crowd craved more, begging with applause.
Best track of the three-song closer was Long Way From Home, a performance that left everyone satisfied, even us. Admittedly it did feel like their best material was showcased in the first 45 minutes which left us wandering in and out, a little bored of the same thing towards the end. Having said that, it’s undeniable that the Colorado outfit are true musicians with a well deserved following. Like the pied pipers of folk, their fans will follow the melodic pipe of their sound for many albums to come.
Written by: Charly Phillips