Mumford & Sons – Live From South Africa: Dust And Thunder, Blu-ray (2017)

Mumford & Sons – Live From South Africa: Dust And Thunder, Blu-ray (2017)

British quartet impresses South African audience.

Cast: Ted Dwane; Ben Lovett; Winston Marshall; Marcus Mumford; Chris Haas; Tom Hobden; Dave Williamson; Nick Etwell, Baaba Mal; Mamadou Sarre; The Brother Moves On; The Very Best; Beatenberg
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment EVB335619 [2/3/1017]
Director: Dick Carruthers
Audio: Dolby Atmos 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, PCM 2.0
Video: 16×9 for 1080i HD, color
Length: 94 minutes
TrackList: Snake Eyes; I Will Wait; Below My Feet; Wilder Mind; Awake My Soul; Lover Of The Light; Tompkins Square Park; Believe; Ghosts That We Knew; The Cave; Ditmas; Dust Bowl Dance; Bona; Lampenda; There Will Be time; Little Lion Man; The Wolf
Ratings:  Audio: ***1/2        Video: ****        Overall: ****

Mumford & Sons formed their band in 2007. Despite having recorded only three studio albums (Sigh No More, Babel and Wilder Mind), they are beloved by their fans. Their genre-defying music takes advantage of the group’s multi-instrumental expertise. The combination of electric and bluegrass instrumentation envelopes literary contexts to create a unique musical expression. In 2016, they collaborated on an EP titled Johannesburg. Eagle Rock Entertainment has released a Blu-ray, Mumford & Sons – Live From South Africa: Dust And Thunder. The 94-minute film showcases the group performing a 17-song set in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd. With rapid-fire editing cuts and night time lighting, the big time show (replete with dry ice smoke) unfolds. The band alternates electric and acoustic arrangements. The opening cut “Snake Eyes” has a dramatic urgency and is followed by a bluegrass-like “ I Will Wait”. Marcus Mumford’s lead vocals are self-assured and restrained. Ben Lovett adds texture on keyboards and piano. Winston Marshall alternates on guitar and banjo, and Ted Dwane handles bass and double bass. All four harmonize with fluency.

There are introspective folk tunes like “Below My Feet” which bristle with intensity. The band is supplemented by drummer Chris Maas, fiddler Tom Hobdem, trombonist Dave Williamson and trumpeter Nick Etwell. Mumford gets behind the drum kit on a couple of numbers. The deep sentiment of the music is expressed on tracks like “Awake My Soul” and “Believe”. The vocal harmonies are compelling, especially on “Ghosts That We Knew” (which Mumford transforms with his halting vocal phrasing). But Mumford & Sons can bring the heat, too. They rock out on “Believe” and “Ditmas”. Mumford is a strong lead singer. After a much needed injection of local township jive (“Wona’, “Lampona”)with local artists, the concert finishes with a “Pinball Wizard”-like acoustic guitar fury on the big hit, “Little Lion Man” (which emphasizes the socio-political, aspirational essence) and the exuberant rocker, “The Wolf”.

There are two 5.1 mixes (Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio) that expand the sound, but lack punch at times. The stereo mix is very even. The night-time filming with constant dry ice smoke adds a surreal touch with eery blue and yellow shades. At the same time, there is a lack of crystalline detail. Like Springsteen audiences, the Mumford & Sons faithful sing along to every line of every song which is distracting. But the film accomplishes its primary goal, presenting this band in performance with no interviews or unnecessary audience shots.

—Robbie Gerson

 

 

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