Mumford & Sons, O Emperor, Harrison Gargill
It's an evening of quality songs at the Mandela. Harrison Cargill starts on his own on with guitar and harmonica and is later joined by slide guitar. He's an engaging performer with decent material, able to hold the attention of those who choose to listen.
O Emporer play a melodic set with something of Grandaddy, Fleet Foxes and Radiohead in the sound, and finish well appreciated by a crowd who probably knew little about them before they hit the stage. The band produce the kind of music that has the emotional connection to carry you off somewhere else, with vocals that sometimes soar and scorching guitar breaks. A bit of wit shows in closing with a song called 'The Fat Lady'.
Mumford & Sons are known for exuberant live shows, and that's what we get, with everyone on their side from the opener 'Sigh No More'. The band are supplemented by horns and a cello and it's a big sound that fills the Mandela. Folk is back, big time.
By the time we get to 'Little Lion Man' and 'Winter Winds' mid-set it's a full out sing-along. 'White Blank Page' and 'Awake My Soul' also come over well and the new songs that crop up promise well and keep the crowd engaged.
Mumford have the knack of delivering folk with a pop sensibility. Songs of loss and searching that connect and mean something, but loaded with catchy hooks and energy that always keep it vibrant. The set closes with current single 'The Cave' before a two-song encore ensures that we all leave happy.
Marcus Mumford has fond memories of a previous gig at the Open House Festival. While almost every band name checks the place they're currently playing you get the impression that the Mumfords mean it. They like Belfast, and Belfast clearly likes them. But sure where else would you go for a good hooley?
Photos: Paul McGlade