Just a few miles from where the Lumineers recorded their Grammy-nominated debut album last year — at Woodinville’s Bear Creek Studio — the Denver-based folk-rock band played to a large, adoring crowd Friday night at Marymoor Park.
Sounding sentimental, singer and guitarist Wesley Schultz talked about the band’s amazing trajectory since releasing its self-named debut album, as well as the enthusiastic support it has received from Seattle fans – more support, in fact, than from hometown fans in Denver, he said. Schultz reminded the crowd of the band’s first Seattle show at the Capitol Hill Block Party, a noteworthy date that led to a string of Seattle appearances as the group rose in stature.
Though the Lumineers have only released one 11-song album (as well as a deluxe version with five bonus tracks), the group has been riding a wave of renewed interest in folk-rock that includes such bands as The Avett Brothers, The Decemberists and Mumford & Sons.
The crowd spanned several generations, from 20somethings to baby boomers. The band’s simple, straightforward, ‘60s-inspired songs were easy on the ears – and easy to sing along to. The band’s more romantic songs held additional appeal for many of the younger couples in the audience.
In addition to Schultz, who wore his trademark brown fedora, the band included core members Neyla Pekarek (cello and vocals) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion, mandolin and backing vocals), as well as touring musicians Stelth Ulvang (piano, mandolin, accordion, guitar and backing vocals) and Ben Wahamaki (bass).
The off-and-on drizzle stopped just before the group arrived on stage. The weather behaved itself through most of the set, sprinkling only occasionally.
The stage was illuminated by five chandeliers and two large lighting towers resembling metal trees.
The band (which performs a second sold-out concert Saturday night) opened with “Submarines,” a song about danger and credibility, and the rousing, retro-sounding “Ain’t Nobody’s Problem (But My Own),” written by Denver country-folk trio Sawmill Joe.
“Flowers in Your Hair,” another song that recalled the ‘60s, preceded “Ho Hey,” the infectious hit single from the group’s debut album. For the crowd, it was a perfect photo and video op. But Schultz stopped the tune to ask that people put away their cell phones and (for those in the back) please stand up and celebrate the moment (this was a little odd, since all of the folks on the main field were on their feet).
The sweet pickup song “Classy Girls,” opening with the deep buzz of Pekarek’s cello, featured the line, “Classy girls don’t kiss in a bar like this.” The lovely “Slow It Down” featured Schultz alone on stage, later joined by Fraites. Then came “Falling in Love,” a new song slated for the band’s sophomore album, featuring Schultz and Pekarek, whose voices intertwined beautifully on the light, romantic tune.
Security personnel escorted Schultz and Ulvang (on accordion) into the crowd for “Darlene” and “Eloise” (the remainder of the band played from the stage). Performing on stools, Schultz and Ulvang provided another smart phone video moment, but this time Schultz didn’t chastise concertgoers for hoisting their devices in the air.
“Stubborn Love,” another hit with a stubborn hook, and “Flapper Girl” closed the main set. Schultz returned alone for the first song of the encore, Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country” (from 1969’s “Nashville Skyline” album). But because of a misstep, Schultz had to start over. He needs a little more practice on this country-rock classic.
Pakarek, on electric bass, joined Schultz for “Morning Song.” “Gun Song,” another new ditty the band will include on its next album, featured the line, “I can’t believe what I found in daddy’s sock drawer.” Fraites gave the chandelier above him a little spin with his drum stick, bringing cheers from the crowd.
The band closed its nearly 90-minute set with the moving “Big Parade,” an oblique song about politics, celebrity, violence, cynicism and ultimately (perhaps) redemption.
Opening the show were singer-guitarist Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, a Denver indie rolk band with a soulful, R&B-influenced sound. They played songs from the new album, “Falling Faster Than You Can Run.” But the group might have been more compelling in a club setting and not such a big outdoor venue.
Dr. Dog, a six-piece indie-rock band from Pennsylvania, followed with an intriguing selection of ‘60s-inspired tunes, among them the catchy new song, “Love.”