Wesley Schultz began at the mic stand on stage left of the extension and Jeremy Fraites at a secondary drum kit at stage right. Being left to fend alone, despair that comes along with not being able to pursue dreams, and the possibility of losing one’s partner are echoed in the opening numbers with Sleep on The Floor and Life in the City. Hard hitting subjects and dark undertones were explored through the entire set with compelling visuals on screen backdrops such as a flaming piano in Left for Denver or a star field among trees for Leader of the Landslide. The relatable feelings and rhythmic choruses balanced those the subjects and undertones.
Earlier in the performance, The Lumineers graced the stage with a wonderful rendition of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homestick Blues. Fan favourite and chart topping single Ho Hey followed. When the band migrated along the hexagon stage extension intersecting with the swarm of onlookers in the pit, those surrounding were energized and drawn closer to every word spoken. At different points of the performance, other band members made their way down towards the crowd including violinist and vocalist Lauren Jacobson who joined the band to replace Neyla Pekarek. Having seen Neyla live with The Lumineers and now Lauren, I felt Lauren meshed well with the other musicians and did not skip a beat.
Addressing the crowd, lead vocalist Schultz exclaims: Can’t stop us from making this music, we are grateful to be here. Slow It Down followed which had every other attendee in mobile flashlight mode swaying to the request of Angie coming back to bed. Schultz then casually goes off the stage transitioning into Angela and makes his way down the left floor aisle passing by yours truly bringing the mesmerized crowd one step closer into the lure of The Lumineers. If that wasn’t enough he made his way into the crowd and finished in the floor pit with a circle of screaming fans locked in with video mode. Angela then led into Gloria, a song that puts perspective on addiction has Wesley showcasing his astounding vocals. During Gloria, Jacobson made her way with the violin to a corner of the hexagon only to pick up the piano keys on the song that followed.
Leader of the Landslide is transitioned to, identifying trials of homelessness and addiction with an engaged audience clapping along at high tempo moments. Cleopatra then sparked the crowd with everyone chanting and hopping. The vocals on Wesley are undeniable and the note he held towards the end of Cleopatra was triumphant. Looking over my shoulder at any given moment, I could spot someone singing along and it made the atmosphere full of euphoria.
Mt Joy’s Matt Quinn and J.S. Ondara, the lead singers of the opening bands, then joined The Lumineers for a nod to Canadian singer songwriter Leonard Cohen with their Bonus Track, Democracy, from III that still holds up today with the political turmoil in the USA. Leonard Cohen, 1992 graced the video screen. Big Parade followed with band member intros: Byron Isaacs - bassist & vocalist, no shoe wearing musician on the keys - Stelth Ulvang, Lauren Jacobson, Brandon Miller, Jeremiah who dresses the same everyday with T-shirt and suspenders and finally Wesley Schultz. White confetti was blasted into the air during the song as a exclamation to a stellar Act.
The Encore. The title track on III, Donna, launched the encore, followed by a crowd favourite Ophelia. Stubborn Love, the end-note of a spectacular show, had the arena at the top of their vocals singing along. The entire band for the finale were all decked out in Raptors’ gear showing their team spirit with custom jerseys. Further gratitude was sprinkled into the sea of people in the Toronto arena by The Lumineers, but it was us attendees that felt a huge sense of gratitude.
Going to many concerts allows you to benchmark and to some degree compare the live experiences with personal takeaways. For this experience, it has been a while since witnessing an energized level of interaction by band members with the music lovers, devoted fans and first time listeners. I absolutely loved my time with The Lumineers from start to finish.
Brad Goldstein is a freelance Toronto photographer, photo journalist and artist that focuses on live music experiences, festivals, and events.
Review by Brad Goldstein
"Sleep on the Floor"