w/SOAK and Sleepwalkers
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver
The band took a bold approach to Wednesday’s concert, playing two of their biggest hits early on in the show.
The Lumineers returned home to Denver for two sold out shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and were greeted with open arms by an adoring hometown crowd. While the unpredictable and often volatile Colorado weather threatened to put a damper on the beautiful evening, nothing more than a few drops of mist fell during the show. As with many of those living in Denver these days, the band’s two founding members, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites are not native Coloradans. Nonetheless, they still call Denver their home—and while at this venue, it’s easy to see why they would want to.
The band took a bold approach to Wednesday’s concert (the second of back-to-back nights), playing two of their biggest hits early on in the show. “Ho Hey,” the song that put them on the map—and the song for which they are arguably most famous—came shortly after the first and most-played single off their latest album, “Ophelia.” Were they trying to test who their real fans were and get the posers out of the venue, or were they so confident in their entire album and their local fans? Either way, it worked, and most of the crowd stayed engaged for the entire show.
Midway through their set, the band announced they wanted to make this large venue a little more intimate, as members made their way into the crowd for a few songs. One of the highlights they played while out on this island was a cover of the Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” They did an impressive rendition that brought new life, energy, and passion to this classic; however, most of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with this song, or maybe even Bob Dylan in general—their loss.
The Lumineers know they are one of the premier modern folk bands, and they really showed it throughout the night, delivering powerful versions of their music during their hour-and-a-half–plus length set. For an encore, they strategically ended the evening with a collaborative version of the popular “Stubborn Love.” This nicely placed hits as “bookends” at the beginning and end of their set, leaving the audience with a sense of completeness to a perfect evening.
Opening the show were Sleepwalkers, who excelled at filling the stage with energy and movement. If you were to watch the band without any sound, you would think they are a hard-rocking group, which belies the truth of their product. They kicked off the evening with their laidback, jam-band-meets-the-Eagles style. The most memorable part of their set was the bassist’s facial expressions, which were entertaining, to say the least. His contorting, grimacing, and straining was just part of the show, but really was engaging and worth paying attention to.
Next up, SOAK came out with a strong, yet subdued voice. She projected while still maintaining softness of tone. When she took the stage, her voice was something that stood out and made you take notice, even though every song was slow-paced and not entirely upbeat. I couldn’t help but make the comparison to Tegan & Sara on a healthy dose of valium. This was a perfect complement and contrast to the feature band. | Mike Bain