19th February 2013
The Lumineers’ European shows are sold out for the next two months solid; their public profile here is relatively low, but their huge reputation in the US has earned them a cult fan base They begin with ‘Charlie Boy’: the opening notes from a mandolin tease the audience into silence. Frontman Wesley Schultz, blonde hair surfing over his forehead, delivers the song’s sentiment with a resonance that echoes beyond its simple lyrics. A cello swells the sound between the words, spot lit in the arms of Neyla Pekavek.
The set gathers momentum, accelerating through the military syllables of ‘Submarines’ and the parlor room piano chords of ‘I Ain’t Nobody’s Problem’. With each song, a new scene is set. For ‘Classy Girls’, Schultz animates his guitar by balancing a brown fedora on its head – the furious rhythm of the song makes it seem like there should be sawdust, not plastic cups, spread across the floor, with a summer’s evening outside
Next, the band disappears from the stage. The lights blink on, illuminating hundreds of confused faces – until shock registers as Schultz’s guitar is spotted threading its way through the Academy. Coming from chairs in the center, his request to “put away all recording devices” goes directly against the instinct to preserve this experience, even as the audience is given parts in singing the band’s anthem, ‘Ho Hey’.
Like the dental veneers that share their name, The Lumineers’ songs don’t amount to much more than a bright surface. They have, however, crafted a live show that is all about being present, giving real meaning to the word ‘live’. Queue for tickets, leave your phone at home: follow the line ‘It takes a boy to live / It takes a man to pretend he was there’, from ‘Flowers In Your Hair’, and be a child in our time.