The Lumineers in Boston

Matthew Shelter on February 15, 2013

The Lumineers
House of Blues
Boston, MA
February 4

It’s no accident that the song playing over the house sound system right before The Lumineers took the stage at the House of Blues in Boston on a recent Monday night was a Fleetwood Mac number (“The Chain”). The Denver-based band’s sound is only a distant relation to that of the legendary ‘70s supergroup, but the spirit of Fleetwood Mac and other classic bands of yore (including, among others, The Band) is woven throughout The Lumineers’ DNA.

The Lumineers have seen their star rising quickly of late. Their debut album garnered much critical acclaim in 2012, they were the musical guest on SNL earlier this season, and are now headlining – and selling out – the kinds of venues at which they were the supporting act barely six months ago. They tap into the same revival of rustic, roots-rock that has fueled the rise to prominence of contemporaries like Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, The Head and the Heart and Civil Wars.

The Boston show, which was sold-out well in advance (not bad for a Monday night gig), drew a crowd mixed in age from young teens to aging boomers. The Lumineers’ three core members – Wesley Schultz (vocals, guitar), Jeremiah Fraites (drums) and Neyla Pekarek (cello, vocals) – are joined on tour by a pair of supporting players: Stelth Ulvang (piano, mandolin, accordion, etc.) and Ben Wahamaki (bass). The band performed all 11 tracks from The Lumineers over the course of the night, opening with the trio of “Submarines,” “I Ain’t Nobody’s Problem But My Own” and “Classy Girls.”

“Flowers in Your Hair,” a short, sub-two minute ditty that begins their album, was stretched out in concert and a real treat, recalling The Band at their simple, dusty best. Shultz stood alone on stage for a solo version of his haunting ballad “Slow It Down,” and at another point he and Ulvang waded into the crowd in the middle of the HOB floor for an unplugged rendition of their signature “Ho Hey” song. This song is one of those hits that may eventually wear itself out, but on this night it still sounded fresh – both the a cappella version from the house floor and the full-band treatment it received later in the show. For their other hit single, “Stubborn Love,” the band was joined by members of opening act Y La Bamba for a sing-along. They closed out the set with “Flapper Girl” before returning for a two-song encore.

The Lumineers are heading overseas for a string of sold-out gigs in the U.K., Europe and Australia before returning to the U.S.A. in late spring to hop on the festival circuit.