Colorado Lumineers rock Austin fans at Moody Center concert

How many concerts have you been to where the star of the show was the scenography?

Without taking anything away from Saturday night’s performance at the Moody Center by Colorado folk-rock band the Lumineers, who delighted a nearly sold-out crowd with a nearly two-hour performance from all four albums they’ve released. since 2012. But what made the show stand out was the shape of the stage and how the band members used it.

Coming out of the usual stage at the west end of the Moody Center were two long runways that met roughly in the middle of the arena floor. The tracks circled a standing pit where a few hundred spectators had a close view of the action. Back on the main stage, a series of tastefully designed lights and video screens, dominated by a circular video display in the center, further enhanced the appearance of the show.

“Tracks” is the operative word: band and crew members frequently rushed to both sides of extensions between songs and sometimes during them, sometimes doing a full loop. The show began with frontman Wesley Schultz and percussionist Jeremiah Fraites, who co-founded the band in New Jersey in 2005 before moving to Denver, soaring from the platforms at the end of each track.

Learn more about the Moody Center:Our review of James Taylor’s summer 2022 concert

Keyboardist Stelth Ulvang, violinist Lauren Jacobson, bassist Bryron Isaccs and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Miller — held back on the main stage as the band launched into “Brightside,” the title track from the band’s latest album. But they didn’t stay there long. At the end of the second song, the title track of 2016’s “Cleopatra,” Jacobson and Isaacs were at the end of the track along with Schultz and Frates.

By then, the crowd was already singing happily. The band upped the ante with their third song by releasing “Ho Hey”, the debut single that launched the Lumineers’ career a decade ago. Now the six members had come out at the end of the ring, playing alternately for the crowd in the stands and for the lucky few inside the pit encircled by the ring.

Jeremiah Fraites and Lauren Jacobson of The Lumineers perform at Moody Center on August 20, 2022 in Austin, Texas.

“Ho Hey” came out of nowhere to reach number three on the US pop charts in 2012, helping the band’s self-titled debut album go platinum. Graphically, they never quite matched the massive success of that first hit. But they continued to release albums and EPs that sold well, and they earned a reputation as an impressive live band. (There’s a reason U2 handpicked them to open a few gigs on their stadium tour in 2017, including stops from Texas to Houston and Arlington.)

More music:Our interview with Texan singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett

The Lumineers lineup has evolved quite a bit over the years, with the most notable change being the addition of Jacobson on violin and keyboards following the departure in 2018 of cellist Neyla Pekarek. While lead guitarist and vocalist Schultz is the central figure — he writes the band’s lyrics and collaborates with Fraites on the music — he’s not necessarily the center of attention onstage, in part because his bandmates have such lively performance styles.

Chief among them is Ulvang, who walked the track barefoot. Switching between an electronic keyboard and an upright piano, Ulvang was a thread of energy all night, especially as he “surfed” the upright, precariously balancing his body on the top shelf of the piano as if it was suspended in the air.

Musically, the band’s appeal may hinge on how listeners connect with the wave of anthemic folk-rock ushered in by bands such as Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers a few years before the Lumineers hit the scene. The songs are mostly simple structures both lyrically and musically; it’s up to the band’s performances to bring them to life on stage, and most of the time, it works.

English singer-songwriter James Bay opens for the Lumineers at the Moody Center on August 20, 2022 in Austin, Texas.

Near the end of the main set—before a somewhat disappointing four-song encore that included a cover of “Brightside” (not to be confused with The Killers’ massive 2004 hit “Mr. Brightside”)—the band released the opening act James Bay for a cameo on “Gale Song”. In some ways, this revealed Schultz’s limitations: he’s a good singer, but Bay is spectacular by comparison, with a much more emotional range in his voice.

After:Our 2016 interview with James Bay

Bay was a solid choice to open the show. The 31-year-old English singer-songwriter, who recorded an episode of “Austin City Limits” in 2016 and also appeared at ACL Fest, played a 40-minute set with a team of four musicians. Drawing material from each of her three albums, including the new “Leap” released last month, Bay has struck an ideal balance of melodic song and rock & roll energy centered around her engaging vocals and memorable guitar riffs. .

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