A happy-fest at Page Park
Mumford & Sons has crowd singing at end of feel-good day
DIXON – "You're ridiculous," Marcus Mumford said to the people packing Page Park as they waved their arms and sang Saturday night.
Mumford, frontman of folk rockers Mumford & Sons, seemed overwhelmed by the response the band was receiving during its nearly 100-minute show. From start to finish, the band had the crowd swaying, singing and cheering loudly.
It was a happy-fest.
Those attending the Gentlemen of the Road Tour show clearly were happy Dixon had been chosen as one of four U.S. stopover sites. Dixon clearly was happy to host. And the band certainly seemed to be happy with its choice.
Page Park, with its narrow landscape and abundant trees, provided about as intimate of a setting as a band could have with 15,000 fans. And Mumford & Sons connected with a passionate, musically tight set of 17 songs. A crystal-clear screen on the left side of the stage provided fans in the back of the park a close-up view of the show.
The band played all but two songs from its standout 2010 album, "Sigh No More," and mixed in six songs from its second album, "Babel," due to be released Sept. 25. While the crowd responded most enthusiastically to hits like "Little Lion Man" and "The Cave," new songs such as "Lover of the Light" and "Below My Feet" also were well received.
And "Babel's" first single, the anthemic "I Will Wait," seems destined to become a Mumford & Sons staple, if the crowd's reaction Saturday was any indication. Many in the crowd sang along with the chorus as if they'd been listening to the song for years instead of weeks.
For some of the fans in the crowd older than their 30s – and there was a good number of them – Mumford & Sons offered their rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer," teaming up with "Uncle Jerry" Douglas, who played a show later in the night at the Historic Dixon Theatre. The band closed its 3-song encore with a raucous version of "With a Little Help From My Friends," performed in Woodstock Joe Cocker style with members from each of the bands that had played earlier in the day.
It was a fitting "finish" to a daylong event that had a distinct communal feel.
More on the "finish" in a second.
Six mostly unfamiliar bands played before Mumford & Sons – Abigail Washburn, Haim and Dawes on the second (west) stage and The Apache Relay, Nathaniel Ratefliff and Gogol Bordello on the main (east) stage.
Of those Haim and Gogol Bordello shined, mostly because of their energy-filled sets. Gogol Bordello likely took most in the crowd by surprise, and by storm, with its relentlessly frenetic pace. Gogol dared those in the crowd – "Deex-own peepole," frontman Eugene Hutz called them – to have fun, and they sure did.
While Mumford & Sons were the show's unquestioned headliners, The Very Best actually closed the night – on the second stage. But as The Very Best's hip-hop club thumping began, most in the crowd was making the slow trek over crushed beer cups and water bottles through the park to the Peoria Avenue Bridge.
Fireworks over the river followed, viewed by most from the downtown street festival by the time they went off around 11:30 p.m.
Page Park and downtown Dixon provided a comfortable, compact venue for a music festival on a beautiful (essentially perfect) summer day. And Mumford & Sons' Gentlemen of the Road Tour concept was a fun, fulfilling experience.
Hopefully, the Gentlemen will return one day.