Reviewed by Katelyn Gilmore
When: July 28, 2016
Where: The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto
How many bands today sell out a 16 000 seat arena of a predominately millennial crowd with mandolins, cellos, tambourines, and accordions in tow? Leave it to The Lumineers to make folk-rock relevant again. After the release of the much anticipated and well-received second album Cleopatra and a refreshingly wholesome sold-out performance, The Lumineers have made it clear they’re here to stay. We couldn’t be happier.
Rayland Baxter opened and amazed with a whimsical Americana set proving he won’t remain in the opener spot for long. The bluesy Langhorne Slim & The Law followed, and drew energy via elaborate rock-star theatrics.
Next, The Lumineers took to an excited crowd and delivered beautifully. Although the band’s lyrical and instrumental talent is undeniable on both of their albums, there is something to be said for those that manage to deliver even more live. No, there was no over-the-top visual backdrops (opting for dangling organ pipes instead), no cheesy props, and no flashy lighting – the aesthetic norm for such large arenas like the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. Furthermore, the focus was not on performance as it typically is for bigger bands, which arguably drives nothing but the barrier of spectatorship. Instead, the focus was simply on their music which eloquently created a natural progression and an intimacy to the 1.5 hour set.
The focus was evidently maintained, once the band asked the audience to put away cameras, the screens actually complied for the remainder of the show and not just for a few songs. The Lumineers gave us nothing but a fixation on their heartbreakingly pure music, and in doing so, the show was that much more impactful. Making a stadium feel intimate can be a daunting task, but it was achieved throughout the concert. “Not long ago we were playing small rooms, so we want to make it feel small again,” said frontman Wesley Schultz before the band joined a smaller stage amongst the crowd. The sun set as they gave us a treat with a Bob Dylan cover of “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. Cellist Neyla Pekarek then showed us she too can sing, and her sweet voice acted as a nice contrast to rugged anthems like “Ho Hey” and “Cleopatra”. It would have been nice to hear more of her.
Soon Schultz was wandering the stadium towards even the lawn seats. However, their intimacy with the crowd didn’t stop at geography, but was created from the band’s genuine approach. It was not another day for them playing an over-rehearsed concert; The Lumineers seemed just as appreciative to play as the audience was to hear them. Charming drummer Jeremiah Fraites was rarely seen without a grin. Couples kissed, friends hugged, and some of the crowd even cried while belting out anything from “Ophelia” to “Slow it Down”. We appreciated them, they appreciated us, we appreciated them more for appreciating us.