In the upstairs washroom of Lee’s Palace, I overheard a girl’s phone conversation: in an attempt to sneak downstairs into the Mumford and Son’s surprise show, she had been staked out in that stall all afternoon and evening. I don’t know if she successfully made it into the show, but I doubt it—security was tight. Tickets were non-transferrable and picked up via will-call, and phones had to be checked at the door.
The extra security measures that the 600-ish people who did manage to snag a pair of tickets off of Ticketmaster had another queue to wait in—the long line that formed down the rainy Bloor St., fans huddled under umbrellas and the hoods of sweaters.
Just after nine o’clock, Mumford and Sons graced the small stage and opened with “Snake Eyes,” following it up with the album’s titular track, “Wilder Minds.” Not surprisingly, it was “Believe” that received the most enthusiasm and the loudest applause.
Mumford and Sons continued to play through the tracks of the yet to be released Wilder Minds, an album that shifts the band from folk to rock, banjos to electric guitars. In fact, during a pause between songs a guy from the crowd yelled out, “Where’s the banjo?”
Marcus Mumford replied, jokingly, “Get out!” then added in that the banjo (that was the spine of Babel and that has seen million quips) will make an eventual return. Marcus went on to joke that “Maybe we should do karaoke or something to fill the time up.
It was a short preview set—clocking in at just shy of an hour, the band closing with “Only Love”—but instead of karaoke, Marcus offered up a Q and A period. “Does anyone got any questions or anything? … We’ve done a few of these shows—some in London, we’ve done some in Berlin.”
Almost everything he said brought about massive cheers from the crowd. He went on to thank the everyone at Lee’s, saying, “it’s really nice of you to leave your phones at the door, because it means we all get to look at each other.”
Someone yelled, “You should make your whole tour that way!”
Someone else yelled, “You’re all f***ing sexy as f**k.”
Marcus quickly yelled back, “That’s my mom!” A few seconds later, he added in, “Which is weird…” and laughed off the strange back-and-forth.
It’s a rare thing to yell something out at a musician as famous as Marcus Mumford, be heard, and have him yell back. And maybe that explains why people would line up in the rain and hide out in a bathroom stall for hours.
Marcus then switched the tone back to one of graciousness, comparing the show atmosphere to “playing in front of family. So thanks for that.” He also apologized for “being f***ing idiots and booking a gig on Good Friday… Our bad.”
A number of fans shouted out replies to the band’s apology, but the reply with the best response came from a young guy who cleverly said, “This makes it a Good Friday!”
Marcus yelled back a “yeah!” and, perhaps not wanting things to turn too sentimental, immediately jumped into playing “Ditmas.”
And it was a good Friday, getting a live preview of Wilder Minds in a cozy venue with only the band’s most devoted fans.
If you missed the Lee’s show, Mumford and Sons will be back in Ontario (Niagara-on-the-Lake) on July 15th to play a show at The Commons at Butler’s Barrack’s Historic Site.
Review by Leah Edwards | @leahhedwards