The Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz recalls that 2013 was the band’s debut performance in Sydney. It was a gig fraught with misfortune with the keyboard failing them on the first song, forcing them into an impromptu duet with an accordion.
This time around there are no such dramas (though even if there were they still would have handled it with style). The instruments are tuned and checked and the sold-out crowd is lapping up the energy and utter joy emanating from the stage.
Watching this six-piece band is like witnessing mastery in action. With the core outfit of Wesley Schultz (vocals, guitar) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums, vocals, tambourine, keys) having played together for 14 years, theirs is a finely-tuned machine that reads less like a gig and more like a jam session, each band member exchanging instruments (seemingly) at whim, but always playing in perfect sync.
They’re here for Splendour in the Grass, but they’re also in Sydney to promote their upcoming record 'III'. Set for release on 13 September, The Lumineers tease us tonight (22 July) with more than a few of its story-heavy songs including the richly nostalgic 'Gloria', empathetically heartfelt 'Leader Of The Landslide', hip-swaying 'It Wasn’t Easy Being Happy For You' and piano tear-jerker 'Donna'.
They cause the punters to stop short in their tracks to listen and learn, but they’re nothing compared to the wave of claps, calls and smiles for the crowd favourites. 'Ophelia' haunts with its grim tale and entrancing piano trills and 'Dead Sea' holds us tight in its grasp, every air-tickling “oooh” sending chills down our spines. But it’s 'Flowers In Your Hair', 'Ho Hey' and 'Big Parade' that get every foot peeling off the sticky dance floor.
The comforting 'Stubborn Love' rounds off the set, Schultz calling to the balcony to sing the aptly titled lyrics 'keep your head up’ and the floor to answer with ‘my love’, making the room pulsate in the chant.
A series of on-stage hugs, drumstick throws, and set-list gifting follows but it isn’t long until mics are moved on stage for that precious “one last song”. It’s not one of theirs, but a cover of Tom Petty’s 'Walls' which The Lumineers played at the 2017 MusiCares Person Of The Year Gala and which Schultz says was approved of by the man himself.
It’s a stripped-back affair comprised of vocals, guitar, tambourine, and accordion all formed in one line of solidarity downstage and is a poignant and bittersweet end to one emotionally-charged, fun-filled and happily misfortune-free night.