Mumford and Sons new album impresses fans at exclusive listening party

Róisín Cullen

Mumford and Sons recently previewed their long awaited new album “Delta” in Rathmines Omniplex.  The British four-piece comprising of Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane has experienced unprecedented success since their formation in 2008. The band’s biggest hit to date “I Will Wait” garnered huge commercial success and Grammy nominations despite the complaints that their music was bland and unoriginal.

Liam Gallagher voiced his particular distaste for the folk-rock group “Everyone’s f***ing Don McLean- far too many acoustic guitars, no style. They look like they shop at Oxfam.” Despite constant criticism the band have always had a loyal fan base and their meaningful lyrics have led to them often being mistakenly branded as a Christian band.

After a ten year recording break, a day out at Glastonbury and of course a visit to Marlay Park, a new album was well overdue. Described by Rolling Stone’s Chris Floyd as their “wildly experimental fourth album”, Delta showed a new side of Mumford and Sons, a side that was not playing for chart approval or for validation from their fans, a band willing to sing about meaningful topics that are often neglected during the race for fame and fortune.

The album was previewed to a privileged few in Rathmines Omniplex the night before its release, an intimate venue for what would be an enlightening and enjoyable experience. It was a sophisticated event with gin with fruit, and fancy finger food. Staples like Ditmas and Babel played in the background of the VIP Lounge of the cinema.

Phones were sealed into plastic bags at the door to avoid the new music being leaked, adding to the atmosphere of the occasion. It was easy to see the lure of a world devoid of social media. It encouraged conversation. It gave everyone a chance to soak in the atmosphere and to appreciate the music. Everyone was able to live in the moment and appreciate the album stripped down and blared through the speakers of a cinema screen.

The band were inspired by National Geographic documentaries while writing the album and had chosen the visual accordingly. The visual helped to explain the need for this experimental album. Wilder beasts ran across the big screen. Predator chased its prey. Wild animals were an extremely appropriate topic considering the nature of this album- to play according to the band’s instincts and disregard critics’ opinions- to venture into “The Wild”.

Some tracks will never venture into the charts or mainstream listening although they were powerful and emotional. Darkness Visible was based on an extract from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Here we saw a completely different side of the band, a band with no aspirations to mimic Don McLean or go clothes shopping in Oxfam. This was a Mumford and Sons still trying to decide what Mumford and Sons means and what it can become. This was not a plea for a Grammy, it was a piece of art.

Two of the artists arrived “on-stage” as the screen went black, visibly nervous and anxious to hear what fans thought of their venture into the unknown. Presenter Stephen Byrne conducted a questions and answers session on what he believed was the band’s “best album to date”. The band believes that they are in the best form they have ever been and left the crowd with promise of more music still to be released. We will have to wait and see if this new music will venture further into literary descriptions of hell or return to the land laced with acoustic guitars and catchy choruses.

Roisín Cullen

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