Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man

Mumford & Sons is a band. Which might sound bleeding obvious, but surely they could just as easily be a goldfield-era ironmongery firm? If I saw the words embossed into the cast iron frame of a pedalboard sewing machine I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. But riding high atop the Triple J Hot 100? Well, that’s a little more surprising. And I don’t think I’m alone in my bemusement.

Here’s a band without a drummer. Here’s a band with a banjo. Here’s a band you might expect to hear in steerage on an Atlantic crossing. Here’s a band called Mumford & Sons for crying out loud!

Mumford & Sons have the heady whiff of authenticity about them: real instruments, real harmonies, real musicianship, and real swear words. They drop the F bomb a couple of times every chorus. It’s sung with such frank, po-faced integrity that no one around the world seems to realise that the word f-u-c-k has been pinging off the ionosphere like a four-letter meteor storm. Dare I say it, if it was a black man wearing a hoodie and Calvin Klein jocks using this type of language on Gold FM (rather than a Celtic geezer wearing his grandpa’s string vest) there would be a Today Tonight report and footage of Fred Nile foaming at the mouth.

Tellingly, the saucy/sassy Black Eyed Peas famously decided to keep their iPod endorsement by opting for Don’t Phunk With My Heart – the PH word rather than the F word. But I guess our likely lads here, with their waistcoats, whispy beards, and deep ’n’ meaningful doggerel lyrics wouldn’t dream of staring down the lens of a camera bellowing I really phunked it up this time. More’s the pity — might lighten things up a bit.

Little Lion Man finds Mumford & his sons phunking it up in a mothballed theatre. No one’s there to witness this one-off gig. In fact, who knows, it may well be set up especially for the video. No matter, Mumford & Sons give it everything. I mean, it may look like they’ve rolled out from under a pub table (via the Daniel Boon props department) but these guys are phunking up for it. Bowing, strumming, finger-picking, tapping, clanging, riffing, scowling, thumping… yeah, thumping. The trouble with not having a drummer is someone generally needs to keep the beat. For most of the song the Mumford frontman finds himself rooted to the spot thanks to a busker’s bass drum strapped to his foot, and a tambourine to his other… frisk him and he’s probably got a kazoo in his breast pocket and a cymbal and honking horn under his armpits. But when the song really takes off, the banjo player evidently ceases to give a phunk and starts thumping his foot like he’s playing his last hoedown. Phunk me.

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