Mumford & Sons and Portugal. The Man bring cheerleaders, c-bombs & confetti to Portland’s NBA home

Mumford & Sons kicked off their North American tour this week, with Portland-based Portugal. The Man opening things up for the first run of shows. This made last night’s show at Moda Center – the second of the run – a hometown show for the supports. Indeed, given how big they are here, it felt like the supports should have been on the other food – but Mumford fans packed the arena, came out early for the support, and together the bands made it a special night indeed.

It was made all the more cool to see PTM perform in the venue where the Trailblazers play – Portland’s NBA team who use Portugal. The Man as their pump up music. The moment wasn’t lost on them either, with the whole band wearing Trailblazers jerseys during the set.

Zach from the band also came out ahead of the set, and reflected on being a local (later saying, “it’s good to be home, this is a dream for us to play this place… we’ve seen some shit here”), with a land acknowledgment – something common in Australia but almost unheard of in the US, so incredible respect for the band for doing this. He thanked the people who were on the land before us, and introduced tribal relations director for the city of Portland, Laura John, who told the crowd her story. Local tribe members then performed ahead of the PTM concert, which itself kicked off with a jam, a promise of on screen slogans throughout the show (and limited banter), with tidbits like “to think 13 short years ago we were playing shows at the Tonic Lounge… Doug Fir… onto two sold out shows at Edgefield last summer”, and a cover of “Another Brick in the Wall”, leading into “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”.

They were playing as a six piece, and pumped out a set that didn’t quit, with songs like “Live in the Moment”, “Holy Roller” and “Modern Jesus” in the mix, and a cover of “Gimme Shelter” which lead into the Trailblazers theme song and set closer “Feel It Still”, accompanied by mascots and cheerleaders from the Trailblazers, as they had more fun quotes about Portland on the screen. At 45 minutes it was an all too brief festival set, but a damn fun one, with an ending Trailblazers party that saw shirts chucked into the crowd, and cheerleaders thrown into the air.

What a party!

The last time I caught Mumford & Sons in a headline show was in 2010 at the Oxford Art Factory, where I got them to do a banjo solo and generally had a superb time. As someone who really loved that first record, it ranks as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen – witnessing a band who had gone from unknowns to superstars overnight, and they knew it. There were more than a few tears shed by the band that night. It’s been hard to bring myself to see them since then, not just because I haven’t connected as heavily with the later records, but also because it’s hard to top an experience like that. But here I am, in Portland, checking out a band who have moved from a 500 capacity venue in Sydney to stadiums around the world – with everyone from our own Gang of Youths to Portugal. The Man supporting them.

Now they’re a touring nine piece, and opening with “Guiding Light” before quickly moving to a centre stage with the OG lineup to pump out “Little Lion Man” early. They also took a moment to celebrate their support band, with Marcus saying, “We feel very privileged to be playing with Portugal The Man”, before launching into “White Blank Page” off their first album, which was once again reduced to a five piece. Marcus jumped on drums and vocals for “Lover of the Light”, which appropriately saw the backdrop fall away revealing an epic lighting set up. “Tompkins Square Park” was a highlight (and really saw the lights cranked up impressively), and then the crowd lent their own lights for “Believe”.

Before “Awake My Soul” then came on the smaller stage at the centre of the arena, Marcus delivered what may have been my favourite moment of the night, saying something to the effect of “we were having a great day in Portland because of all the wonderful people… until you cunts showed up.” Cue awkward laughter from an American audience who doesn’t use it so flippantly as we do. He promised everyone he was joking before the set continued, meanwhile I was actually dying of laughter. Shortly later, during “Ditmas”, he quite literally walked and sung through the entire crowd, playing even to the people at the back of the arena at the sound desk through, which is a pretty cool thing to do for any band, let alone one this big. Having hi-fived some kids en route, he joked when he got back to the stage, “who the fuck brings kids to a kid?”, and he promised to use the c-bomb less. “The Cave” followed to a huge singalong. The fireworks on stage for “Darkness Visible” were epic, and then the main set ended with sparks falling from the sky and “The Wolf”.

They returned to the b-stage for an encore, which started unplugged around one microphone with pleas for a silent crowd, performing “Wild Heart”, “Reminder” for the first time in years, and a snippet of “Forever”. Then they returned to the stage for a cover of the Johnny Cash version of “Hurt” (distinct in its rhythm and “thorns”), and a big singalong in “I Will Wait”. The night closed out with “Delta”, ending the occasion with some of the best lighting of the show – and that’s saying something – with some extra confetti just to make it all the more magical.

Even as a casual listener these days it was a show impossible not to enjoy, with incredible lights, great singalongs and the impressive retention of the feel of an intimate showcase, even in the massive surrounds of an iconic NBA stadium.

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Mumford & Sons continue their tour of North America with Portugal The Man on the below dates. Then Gang of Youths return to the road with Mumford after their huge shows in Europe earlier this year which resulted in this amazing collaboration. Head HERE for tickets and more details.

07 AUG 2019
BC PLACE STADIUM, VANCOUVER, BC
WITH SUPPORT FROM PORTUGAL THE MAN.

09 AUG 2019
GORGE AMPHITHEATRE, GEORGE, WA
WITH SUPPORT FROM PORTUGAL THE MAN.

11 AUG 2019
OGREN PARK AT ALLEGIANCE FIELD, MISSOULA, MT
WITH SUPPORT FROM PORTUGAL THE MAN.

13 AUG 2019
USANA AMPHITHEATRE, WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
WITH SUPPORT FROM PORTUGAL THE MAN.

15 AUG 2019
FIDDLER’S GREEN AMPHITHEATRE, GREENWOOD VILLAGE, CO
WITH SUPPORT FROM LORD HURON.

16 AUG 2019
FIDDLER’S GREEN AMPHITHEATRE, GREENWOOD VILLAGE, CO
WITH SUPPORT FROM TENNIS.

17 AUG 2019
FIDDLER’S GREEN AMPHITHEATRE, GREENWOOD VILLAGE, CO
WITH SUPPORT FROM THE MILK CARTON KIDS.

15 SEP 2019
KAABOO DEL MAR FESTIVAL, SAN DIEGO, CA

16 SEP 2019
TALKING STICK RESORT ARENA, PHOENIX, AZ
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS GANG OF YOUTHS.

19 SEP 2019
CHASE CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO, CA
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS GANG OF YOUTHS.

24 SEP 2019
AUDITORIO TELMEX, GUADALAJARA, MX
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS GANG OF YOUTHS.

25 SEP 2019
PEPSI CENTER WTC, MEXICO CITY, MX
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS GANG OF YOUTHS.

28 SEP 2019
SHOWCENTER, MONTERREY, MX
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS GANG OF YOUTHS.

06 OCT 2019
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS MUSIC FESTIVAL, AUSTIN, TX

08 OCT 2019
TOYOTA CENTER, HOUSTON, TX
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS GANG OF YOUTHS.

09 OCT 2019
AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER, DALLAS, TX
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS GANG OF YOUTHS.

11 OCT 2019
CHESAPEAKE ENERGY ARENA, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS GANG OF YOUTHS.

13 OCT 2019
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS MUSIC FESTIVAL, AUSTIN, TX

23 NOV 2019
NEON LIGHTS FESTIVAL, SINGAPORE, SG

The author is in Portland as a guest of Travel Portland, with the support of Brand USA. While in Portland the author is staying a 20 minute walk away from the Moda Center at the Jupiter Next Hotel. Photo by the author.

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Larry Heath

Founding Editor of the AU review. You can find him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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