There might be no grouping of more high-spirited entertainers than the three groups that took the stage yesterday evening in Tempe. Throughout the night, each band invited members of other bands to join them for collaborations for a few songs. Marcus Mumford was invited to play with Old Crow Medicine Show, as was Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. In turn, Ebert invited some of Old Crow Medicine show to join his band as well. The brotherhood between the members of these bands was easily felt by the crowd, and by the end of the show I was left thinking, "Man, I really want to party with all of those guys."
The bands' Amtrak train parked next to the site and festive strings of lights set the mood for
Old Crow Medicine Show to deliver some of the best bluegrass out there and get the concert started on the right track (pun intended). Songs like "Mississippi Saturday Night," "Poor Man," "My Bones Are Gonna Rise Again," "Take 'Em Away," "Wagon Wheel," and "Tell It To Me" thrilled the crowd and got them ready for an unforgettable evening.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros kicked off their set with the fan favorite "40 Day Dream" with Ebert singing while standing on the barricades, which he did multiple times throughout the band's set. I don't care that Alex Ebert showed up in his pajamas; he's a great entertainer. The group played "Up From Below," "Janglin'," "River of Love," "Carries On," and more. Ebert peppered his 10-person band's set with a series of dry-humored one-liner jokes. "What do you call a Mexican with a rubber toe? Roberto!" Everyone laughed reluctantly. "Home" was their final song, which made the crowd predictably go nuts. Jade and Alex stole the show for "Home" and had 10,000 people whistling a contagious melody. It seemed to bring everyone together.
Even though the show was great up to that point, the night was really all about Mumford & Sons. There's something particularly spiritual about their live performances. They started off with "Sigh No More" and went on to play "Roll Away," "White Blank Page," "Lover's Eyes," "Little Lion Man," "Lover of the Light," "Awake My Soul," and a few others. There was no doubt that they successfully made a great impression on everyone who came out to Tempe for the biggest stop on the Railroad Revival Tour. They packed the house. Even people who lived at the apartments next to the concert site flooded the buildings' rooftops and balconies. Eventually people were filling the streets outside the fence as well. Everyone came out to see a soulful performance, and that's exactly what they got.
All three bands shared the stage for a grand finale of "This Train," during which there must have been 30 musicians on stage. It was easy to see that every single one of them loved one another and was making the most out of their time together on this tour, which made for a truly special closing to the show. A train whistle that sounded from another location in Tempe right after the grand finale ended truly made for a perfect ending to the show.
Last night: Old Crow Medicine Show, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and Mumford & Sons.
Personal bias: While I've been underexposed to Old Crow Medicine Show, I've been a fan of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros for about a year.
The crowd: Folk and country music lovers young and old.
Overheard: "Play 'White Blank Page!'" - some guy near the end of Mumford's set. "They already did!" - my friends and I in response
Random notebook dump: Creating a one-time makeshift venue makes for a lot of clogging within the vicinity. While the check-in process was speedy, a line to get your ticket scanned spanned the length of what was probably about five blocks. People had been standing in a line that long since around 3 p.m. even though doors didn't open till 5 p.m. And for what? I got there at 5:30 and walked almost right up to the stage.
On a side note, the two sign language girls who were on the left side of the stage were fantastic. I've never seen anyone so into translating anything, and while I'm sure half of their translation was indirect and mixed in with some hippie dancing, they did a great job and they were fun to watch.