Mumford & Sons Confirmed Their (Shallow) Legacy-Act Status at Gexa

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Mumford & Sons
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Monday, April 4, 2016

Although hordes of soundalikes still somehow find audiences, Mumford & Sons’ moment is over.  A large Dallas crowd at Gexa Energy Pavilion last night offered fairly steady enthusiasm for Marcus Mumford’s crew, but the reaction to the few songs pulled from their 2009 debut Sigh No More was a different thing entirely. Three albums in, Mumford & Sons are already a legacy act.

If you remain unconvinced (not without reason), think back to the last time you read a vivid description of the awfulness of these, ahem, Gentlemen of the Road. (This alter ego, for the record, is easily the worst thing about Mumford & Sons.) Even the people who hate them have lost interest, which is just about the most damning sign imaginable. Could an average listener name a song from last year’s Wilder Mind without looking it up? Heard up against cuts from Of Monsters and Men or the Lumineers, or some other nu-folk, could they pick it out of a lineup?

Particularly in the live setting, Mumford’s recent offerings sound more like Frightened Rabbit and the National than they do anything from his famed T Bone Burnett collaboration, the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack. And Matt Berninger and Scott Hutchison, whatever their detractors may say, have at least penned interesting original phrases throughout their careers, something Marcus has (as of yet) failed to do even once, by my admittedly unforgiving estimation.

A late cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” brought me out of a mild coma last night, mostly because its nightmarish lust (“At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet and a freight train running through the middle of my head”) provided the first moment of the entire set that wasn’t decidedly, unnervingly sexless, a complaint I don’t lodge all that often. If Mumford is concerned with overtly offending the sensibilities of his Charismatic Christian roots, he should remember that even The Bible has “Song of Solomon.”

Oddly enough, it was the Kings of Leon that came to mind for comparisons, another young legacy-act troupe that fills arenas despite only one or two worthy songs in the tank, not to mention the Christianity-filled backstory. But the Followill clan have come out of the Pentecostal church with fire in their loins and liquor on their breath, charging forward with a concrete sense of purpose, however banal. Meanwhile, half of Mumford & Sons' choice cuts don’t even rise to banal — they’re a mixture of context-free Biblical language and popular Wikiquote entries, a Twitter bot that deserves zero favs. Maybe you won’t go all the way and press unfollow, but that mute button sure comes in handy.

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