Photo Credit: @thelumineers on Twitter
On Saturday the 1st of November The Lumineers graced Plymouth Pavilions with a gig. To summarise the night with the phrase ‘emotional ride’ would be an understatement. Having only played the first 3 songs, lead singer Wesley Schultz asked the audience for a favour before performing their popular single Ho Hey; that after this song everyone puts away their phones and instead spends the next hour enjoying the show and just ‘’being together and present’’ in the moment. And indeed, the singer’s wishes were respected as for the rest of the show barely any phones or electronic devices were seen — only arms and the occasional person on shoulders occupying the air. This small gesture was perhaps one of the most powerful moments of the entire night. Sure, it’s okay to take a few pictures when you’re seeing an artist you love (I’m definitely guilty). But in a day and time where we feel compelled to immortalise every exciting moment on a screen, the mere suggestion that a room of almost 4,000 people could resist this urge and simply just enjoy those moments felt like a very meaningful expression of love for music.
This live experience definitely stood out from most for the majority of the audience, especially those younger people who have only ever known a world in which taking videos at gigs for Facebook and Snapchat is of the outmost importance. Maybe it wasn’t so deep and maybe it wasn’t intended as a profound rebellion against phones, but I definitely found myself enjoying the show more when I wasn’t distracted by my phone or unreasonably annoyed with others constantly filming every moment.
Furthermore, this show was not short of raw performances; some acoustic, some with extended piano solos, some cheerful and some sombre, but all sincere. And for a band as popular as The Lumineers it was interesting to see that there was nothing too elaborate or extravagant to distract from the music. There were of course colourful lights and stage visuals, but it didn’t seem like the band wanted to focus too much on anything other than the music performed.
There was also something particularly admirable about the fact that Schultz felt comfortable sharing the intimate backstories of various songs before playing them. If you didn’t know much about The Lumineers you’d probably go home knowing a few sad and happy stories about Schultz’s father, family and past relationships. The fact that The Lumineers felt compelled to help you go beyond the scope of limitations of your personal interpretation of their lyrics made you feel like this particular gig and your understanding of their songs was exceptionally important to them. It also made you feel as though the night was more than just another date on a long list of tour destinations.
Another moment that deserves a notable mention was when Schultz sang Darlene with all microphones and speakers off. The lead singer’s voice echoed across the room flawlessly and uninterrupted as he and the rest of the band generated music using only vocals and an acoustic guitar. Those 3 minutes were perhaps the embodiment of the simplicity and humbleness that the band represents. It was also great to see a fair balance between songs from the first and second album as the trio made sure to play old favourites while also debuting new material from their sophomore album Cleopatra throughout their 21-song set. The audience also enjoyed the band’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, a cover they did the last time they played Pavilions back in 2013.
In our last few moments with The Lumineers we got to hear an unreleased version of the new album’s Long Way from Home with extended intro verses and a confession by Schultz about how performing for an audience helps him cope with personal issues. The show closed after fan-favourite single Stubborn Love was performed and it was a bit hard not to feel a slight sadness that the night was over. Still, it was a rather pleasant ending and if you’ve been to a few gigs in the past you know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with the joy that comes with dancing and singing carelessly while another few thousand people join along.