Mumford & Sons cover AC/DC with random fan at 'Delta' tour finale in Milwaukee
"It's the last night of the tour," Mumford & Sons' Marcus Mumford said at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee Sunday. "Anything can happen."
But I imagine no one at the final stop of the North American "Delta" tour leg expected to see the folk-rock band cover AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" with a random fan subbing for Brian Johnson.
After performing "Awake My Soul," during which a warm crowd singalong made Mumford misty-eyed, he huddled excitedly with pianist Ben Lovett, guitarist and banjo player Winston Marshall and bassist Ted Dwane, and then broke some news to the capacity crowd.
"Look, if you've got baby sitters at home, you're very welcome to leave at this point," he said. "But we're going to (expletive) around for a while."
Mumford then asked if anyone knew the first line to the second verse to "You Shook Me All Night Long," spotting a fan waving in the pit.
"She knows it!" he yelled. "Come on, we're doing karaoke."
The fan was so elated she tripped as she tried to jump on the stage, but she bounced back and leaped into Mumford's arms.
Then, with Mumford on the drums, the fan, named Jess, sang the AC/DC classic with some help from thousands, and with the guitarist and bassist from the night's opening act, Cat Power, climbing on stage to play arena rock god.
It wasn't the only lovely surprise at Mumford & Sons' cheerful tour finale.
For the show's 10th song "Ditmas," Mumford jumped off the stage and sprinted up the aisle in Section 105, pausing for a few moments to dance with a delighted woman at the top of the staircase.
But Mumford wasn't done. He ran behind the seats in that lower bowl, a security guard struggling to keep up with him, before racing down the stairs in Section 121.
But Mumford, who clearly didn't plan this all the way through, ended up at a barricade several feet above the main floor. He pushed past people in the row next to him, only to come to another barricade. This one was lower to the ground, though, so he hopped the gate and jumped down to the ground, looking a bit nauseous from his run.
There were several big rock-show moments Sunday, too.
A burst of fireworks erupted on the stage at the end of "Believe" and "The Wolf." Fog engulfed the four Mumford lads and the four additional live performers, the lighting rig dropping down until it was inches above their heads, with red rockets shooting upwards from atop the rig during the experimental-rock instrumental "Darkness Visible." And there was a blizzard of confetti for concert finale "Delta," the title track to Mumford & Sons' latest Billboard 200 chart-topper.
But while the band has mastered the grandiose arena anthem, less is frequently more with Mumford & Sons. They went electric for the last two albums, "Delta" and "Wilder Mind," but those LPs are less inspired than those first two breakout acoustic albums, "Sigh No More" and "Babel." And a cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" Sunday — initially so sparse and haunting — was wrecked by hollow, rock-show bombast.
Fortunately, Mumford & Sons offered many intimate moments across Sunday's hour-and-50-minute show. They didn't even use a full drum kit for the night's most infectious singalongs — "Little Lion Man," "The Cave" and "I Will Wait." Instead, Mumford used a kick drum as he sang, with sprinkles of piano, violin, trumpet and trombone sending the driving guitar, banjo and vocals soaring.
The main four members also gathered around a lone microphone, with Mumford's acoustic guitar as the lone instrument, to sing "Cold Arms" and "Forever."
"If you feel like it's your time to hoot and holler, it's not," Mumford said. A few couldn't resist — one guy screamed "Go Brewers!" and a woman yelled "I love you, Marcus," which prompted Mumford to squeeze in a quick "shut up" as he sang.
But by and large, some 15,000 people managed to stay quiet during those incredibly quiet and compelling performances.
It was the last night of the tour, after all. Anything could happen.
“Should I use my arena voice,” Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, asked near the end of her opening 45-minute set.
Despite decades now of critical accolades, even she seemed a bit surprised to be playing an arena, and certainly grateful, considering all the thanks and good cheer she offered any time she spoke between songs.
Fiserv Forum may not have felt like the natural environment, but it was wonderful to see her getting wrapped up in her simmering folk and rock catalog, further enhanced by a sparsely effective three-piece band. No one seemed as excited, though, as Marcus Mumford, who got to jam with the band for the last three songs, and support Marshall on vocals on an arena-scale slow burner “He Was A Friend of Mine.” He also brought Cat Power a fern as a present, but really the gift was all ours.
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- Mumford & Sons made a big deal of their in the round stage set-up ahead of their “Delta” tour, and the band even got some backlash in their native England when they pushed off a couple shows to work out some kinks. What actually appeared though was rather modest - a standard rectangle across the middle of the arena floor - and that was a good thing, allowing for a more intimate presentation without any unnecessary bells and whistles.
- Mumford paused the show at the 45-minute mark saying he despises his breath at that point of a set. A roadie offered him a stick of gum, and while Mumford said he couldn’t sing and chew, he could dance. He did a little shuffle to the guitar line from Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” and changed some lyrics of “Walking on Sunshine” to “Milwaukee on Sunshine,” looking awfully pleased with himself for his pun.
- When Mumford returned to the stage for the extended encore, he slipped on a custom Bucks jersey autographed by the team.
- That wasn’t his only Milwaukee sports experience Sunday. He got to throw out the first pitch of the Brewers game at Miller Park against the St. Louis Cardinals.
- Available at the show was a cool reusable cup program, r.cup, where patrons donated $3 and either kept a Mumford & Sons Delta Tour cup, or could return it at the end of the show for their deposit back, as a way to reduce single-use plastic cups getting tossed in the trash. I’m all for this and hope to see it at more events soon.
THE SET LIST
1. "Guiding Light"
2. "Little Lion Man"
3. "Holland Road"
4. "The Cave"
6. "Lover of the Light"
7. "Tompkins Square Park"
8. "Slip Away"
11. "Picture You"
12. "Darkness Visible"
13. "The Wolf"
14. "Cold Arms"
16. "White Blank Page"
17. "Hurt" (Nine Inch Nails cover)
18. "Awake My Soul"
19. "You Shook Me All Night Long" (AC/DC cover sung by a fan named Jess)
20. "I Will Wait"
Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.
Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on "TAP'd In" with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.