On the surface, it’d be easy to pinpoint a catchy, fast-rising single with perpetual radio and TV commercial play as the reason for The Lumineers meteoric rise, reminding many of the seemingly overnight emergence of bands like Local Natives and The Head and the Heart. No doubt, “Ho Hey” is a great song that has turned many of us into Lumineers apologists in Nashville and all across the country, and specifically here in Nashville. They are a great band full of unrestrained talent and grace, but it’s the depth of their self-titled debut album that indicates they might have some staying power beyond their burgeoning fanbase. The album, certainly among the best released in 2012 so far, is the first since Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More” that I have personally put on repeat for months on end. Apparently, the same appears to be the case for the rest of Nashville as their show at The Cannery Ballroom Tuesday night turned into the 2nd largest sing-along I’ve attended, behind only Mumford & Sons’ concert, nee revival, at War Memorial Auditorium in November 2010.
The Lumineers navigated their way through their entire 11-track album, to which it seemed the entire crowd knew all of the words to. Playing those tracks alone would have made for a very good show, even a great one. However, the additions of unreleased tracks such as “I Ain’t Nobody’s Problem” and “Eloise”, a well-placed cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and The Band’s seminal “The Weight” featuring several members of Old Crow Medicine Show are what helped the performance nearly reach its zenith moment. But just when it seemed the show might be over and as the Old Crow boys left the stage following the first song of the encore, The Lumineers made their way deep into the crowd and set up shop in the middle of the room, right next to us, standing on stools and chairs, for an acoustic version of “Darlene,” a foot-stomping tribute to all things love featuring percussionist Jeremiah Fraites with easily the best glockenspiel performance that we’ve ever seen.
It can’t be understated how difficult it can be for a band to draw the collective embrace of a crowd by simply playing the songs they know so well let alone the attention of a packed house for new songs that the majority of people may have never been heard. But The Lumineers have the energy and exuberance that envelops their fans and unwraps a shimmy and a frolic out of even the most flat-footed concert-goer. While the music industry can often have trouble supporting the rapid growth of a band like The Lumineers, their resplendent personalities, polished songwriting and seasoned stage presence indicate they certainly will be around for many, many shows capable of dwarfing their already impressive performances.