It has been a busy couple of years for The Lumineers. Since releasing their debut album in 2012 and having massive success with their single ‘Ho Hey’, they have toured pretty much non-stop across the States, as well as playing shows in Europe and the UK. We were at the O2 Academy for the Birmingham date of their 2013 headline tour.

First to take the stage is Thao and The Get Down Stay Down, a three-piece folk rock group from San Francisco fronted by Thao Nguyen, who, despite being a tiny Asian woman in a pink dress, wouldn’t seem out of place at the helm of a thrash metal band, head banging and jumping around with a guitar almost bigger than the singer herself. The band entertain the crowd with their own brand of eclectic alternative folk, with songs such as ‘When We Swam’ and ‘Body’ particularly getting a positive response. The mix of their unique sound and high energy set left the audience feeling fired up and ready for the headline act, and also admitting to themselves that sadly they will never be as cool as Thao Nguyen.

Denver natives The Lumineers open their set with ‘Submarines’, which has everyone up and dancing from the first chorus, before launching into the first of three covers, ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Problem’ by Sawmill Joe. At one point during the first few songs, lead singer Wesley Schultz stops mid-verse to politely ask fans at the front to put their cameraphones away, urging fans to “just be human”, which is something that he requests at many of their shows and makes for a refreshing escape from the sea of screens that you normally have to deal with at gigs. Surprisingly, the band choose to play their biggest hit ‘Ho Hey’ towards the start of the set, rather than as an encore as expected, which might suggest that they are trying to move away from the popularity of this track and towards new things.

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In addition to playing songs from their self-titled debut album, the band played some new tracks. Shultz and female vocalist Neyla Pekarek performed a well received duet about falling in love, before members of the band went into the middle of the audience to play other new material, including tracks called ‘Darlene’ and ‘Elouise’, which added a welcome level of intimacy to the show. Towards the end of the set, Schultz performed a brilliant solo cover of Shovels & Rope’s ‘Birmingham’, which he explains he learned that day especially for the show (despite being written about Birmingham, Alabama), and afterwards apologises for “butchering it”, which gets a laugh from the crowd.

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After this, the rest of the band return to play three encore tracks, culminating in ‘Big Parade’, which has the audience shouting along during the chorus before the band hugged and patted each other on the back as they left the stage, giving a real personal feel to evening and leaving the fans feeling that they have just seen something really special.

Photos by Chris McFall