The folk-turned-rock band will open for U2 on its first three tour stops, including Seattle, on “The Joshua Tree Tour.”
If Mumford & Sons have proved anything, it’s that banjos will never go out of style.
The folk rock group will open for U2 at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, May 14. The sold-out show is the second stop on U2’s tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band’s album “The Joshua Tree.”
Though bluegrass is usually associated with American roots music, Mumford & Sons formed in London in 2007. Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, and Ben Lovett began playing together at “country nights” at a small venue in London. Once Mumford met bassist Ted Dwane, the band was complete, and they gained local popularity alongside other English folk artists like Noah and the Whale and Laura Marling.
Their 2009 debut album, “Sigh No More,” brought them international success. They became known for their banjo-heavy sound and the many literary references in their lyrics.
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The title and several other lines in the song “Sigh No More” are taken from William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” Timshel, a Hebrew word found in the Old Testament that also appears in John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden,” is the title of the eighth song on “Sigh No More.” The lyrics “Stars hide your fires, these here are my desires” in “Roll Away Your Stone” allude to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
“The Cave” is also full of literary references. Some say it draws on Plato’s allegory of the cave, while others suggest that the line, “Come out of your cave walking on your hands and see the world hanging upside down,” refers to G. K. Chesteron’s biography of St. Francis of Assissi. “Tie me to a post and block my ears” and “make your siren’s call and sing all you want” allude to Homer’s “The Odyssey.”
Banjos, acoustic guitars, and kick drums continued to dominate the group’s sound in their 2012 album, “Babel.” The album’s lead single, “I Will Wait,” was internationally popular, and “Babel” won Album of the Year at the 2012 Grammy Awards.
Near the end of their “Babel” tour, Marshall traded his banjo for an electric guitar at sound checks. Mumford also began using a full drum kit instead of a kick drum. Those heavier instrumentals continued into the production of their 2015 album, “Wilder Mind,” which became their second album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Though banjos and mandolins had defined the band for years, the electric guitars and synthesizers suited large amphitheaters and big crowds.