It was a great triple program, some might call it Men With Hats.
After strong opening sets from Isakov and Rodrigues, the other Coloradans The Lumineers literally came off stage for the opening acts at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. A drum kit emerged from the track that extended and wrapped around the floor section. The band went through several songs, starting with the self-titled single from their new album BRIGHTSIDE and shortly after their signature (and first-ever single) “Ho Hey.” The innovative stage featured two rings with standing room only. It made for a few lucky fans, who found themselves surrounded by Lumineers.
Most of the song arrangements fall under the anthem and cutscene, which worked well for the San Diego arena setting. After opening for U2 at the Rose Bowl and elsewhere, the Lumineers have sharpened their chops.
The band’s founding members and songwriters Wesley Schultz (vocals, guitar) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion, piano) grabbed the attention for most of the show.
Fraites often left his kit to don an acoustic guitar and later a mandolin for “Charlie Boy,” a poignant song about the armed forces.
There’s a cornucopia of bands that have gained traction over the past decade, largely thanks to the seeds that were planted half a century ago by The Band. Avoiding the often bombastic tendencies of the time, these groups trace in the footsteps of The Band by adopting a more bucolic and organic sound. It’s not just an emphasis on acoustic instrumentation, but an affectionate nod to the past and infused with a modern take. The Lumineers fit well into this remarkable group of artists. The genre for decades has been called Americana. Is it a coincidence that The Lumineers and The Band have a song called “Ophelia”? Hard to say.
Stelth Ulvang (the Garth Hudson of the Lumineers) skilfully moved between keyboards, mandolin and accordion. He then showed his versatility on the piano. Eventually, he went crazy, strutting around the arena railings with his guitar. The eclectic instrumentalist of the group has never been so gymnastic. Discover its agility here.
Throwing caution and vaccination to the wind, Schultz jumped into the pit earlier to sing and mingle with a group of punters.
A beautiful interlacing of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” nourished the middle of “Leader of the Landslide”. Schultz provided a lengthy introduction to “Where We Are”, aptly pointing out that “I don’t know where we are but it’ll be fine” is a good reflection of the past two years, even though the lyrics were inspired by a roll following a car accident.
Toward the end of the night, the headliner brought in Rodriguez and Isakov to test out a nice version of Tom Petty’s “Walls.” With all the musicians in a front line acoustic arrangement, it was a powerful performance. The Lumineers opened a few shows during Petty’s 2017 tour.
Impressively, the current tour builds on a comprehensive climate action agenda via REVERB’s Music Climate Revolution campaign, which, “in addition to reducing the tour’s environmental footprint and inspiring fans to take action during shows, will support projects that directly and measurably eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.” gas while benefiting various global communities. These efforts will make the climate of the tour positive; removing far more greenhouse gas pollution than the tour emits, including fan travel to and from shows.
The Lumineers were able to leverage nearly two decades of songwriting endeavors and ten years of recorded music. Many songs have opened up over the years as the band commands bigger venues, which is solid proof that the band is maturing admirably.
(images by Brad Auerbach)