The Lumineers in the City of Light

IMG_1461L’Olympia Bruno Coquatrix, Paris

Performance date: 28 June 2013

Touring a debut album of under 40 minutes in length could be problematic. The Lumineers, a 5-piece folk outfit based in Denver, Colarado, ignored any qualms and rode the wave of blithe enthusiasm which permeates their music and gave a stomping, if short, performance in Paris on Saturday night.

Opening with the boppy, “Submarines”, the 5-piece kept the tempo high and played “Flowers in Your Hair” and their hit, “Ho Hey” early in the show. A risky move, to perform your number 1 track so early, made even more risky with the lead singer Wesley Schulz halting the song after the first verse to ask the audience to put down their ubiquitous mobile phones and “be in the moment together” instead. The strength of the song carried through.

Audience participation is clearly something the band relish – but there were some communication difficulties and (lack of) rhythm issues with the French audience which meant that some interactions, such as the call and responses in “Hold Your Head Up”, didn’t quite come off. Again, this didn’t really seem to matter: The Lumineers exude such an inclusive, easy-going nature they welcomed everyone having a go, even if it doesn’t quite work out. (Like when their exuberant pianist took a stab at a chorus of their cover of The Band’s “The Weight”. Points for passion, if not pitch.)

The band unapologetically draws on the heavyweights of American folk, but with their own spirit and flashes of lyrical brilliance. When they pull it off, as in “Ho Hey” or “Dead Sea”, their music is fresh and moving. Other covers performed included Dylan’s, “Subterranean Homesick Alien” which Neyla Pekarek’s cello accompaniment gave a dystopian edge. (I was a little sad they chose this Dylan instead of their moving version of “Spanish Boots”.)

A new song called “Falling”, a duet with the impossibly cute Pekarek, was premiered. Pekarek’s baby doll face gave no indication of the lusty Broadway musical voice which emerged and cut through the folksy-ness of the song. The concert drew to a close all too soon, but the capacity audience was with them all the way, and we rode their energy into the night tapping our toes to “Big Parade”. (Lovely Lumineers, won’t you stay, won’t you stay, stay with me?)

 With time, it looks like The Lumineers will shine brighter and brighter.

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