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The Lumineers overcome

Blue Hills Pavillion, Boston, September 7, 2016

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The Lumineers encountered big problems early on. During only their second song, a reading of the first single, "Ophelia," from their new disc, "Cleopatra," lead singer Wesley Schultz stopped the song. Twice. The problem was the piano of Stelth Ulvang, which suffered sound gremlins.

With sound restored, that was about the only misstep from the folk rock/rootsy Colorado band.

The Lumineers, playing the first of two nights in Boston, acquitted themselves as a band with far more than one major hit ("Ho Hey" from the debut) to its name. First off, there was the diversity of sound. They went from more folk sounding songs (Dylan was certainly a touchstone as indicated by the group's version of "Subterranean Homesick blues") to front porch country on more than one occasion with a healthy dose of mandolin.

Indicative of The Lumineers trying to change it up, Schultz went from piano to electric guitar to acoustic guitar as his instrument of choice on consecutive songs. Cellist Neyla Pekarek played an active role in forging the sound as well, giving the material a welcome density and underbelly.

And Schultz was a most capable lead singer. Looking hipsterish with a brown hat, Schultz had a very full, commanding voice that took ownership of the songs and stage, dishing out the material with authority and conviction.

This also was a group that had sufficient confidence to play "Hey Ho" as the fourth song of the 85-minute set. It was by far The Lumineers' best-known song, a bit of an oddity, but it also was not the case where didn't have plenty of other worthy material. The title track of the new disc proved to be one of the best songs of the night.

Sound problems be damned. The Lumineers may have overcome that, but not much more. With presence and songs, The Lumineers had no need.

Decidedly out of place was the middle act of the night, BÝrns, a singer from Michigan. BÝrns, aka Garrett Borns, had nothing to do musically with The Lumineers. He sang with a falsetto, a bit of a soulful, but mainly pop approach.

Perhaps indicative of how the set went, BÝrns sang almost the entire first song - except for the final five seconds - with his mic not working. Except for the closing song, which was clearly the most commercial and strongest musically, it was a set where the songs weren't particularly inventive, nor the delivery very captivating. BÝrns was not exactly a table setter for the headliners.

Opening act Rayland Baxter fared far better in his rootsy/Americana-oriented stint. Baxter sings with a full-bodied delivery, infusing the songs with a sense of authority. Unlike BÝrns, there was enough diversity in the songs to make for a more compelling stint.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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