“The poor man’s version of the Beatles.” Marcus Mumford’s humble-brag description of his band during a Live on Letterman taping Friday night, as reported by MTV, turned out to be a colorful preview of Mumford & Sons’ stint as musical guest over the weekend on Saturday Night Live.
Like the Beatles and that earlier British Invasion, London’s newest Fab Four take indigenously American styles — bluegrass, the genre that is Dave Matthews Band — and serve them back with crowd-pleasing levels of charm and craftsmanship. On this weekend’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt-hosted episode of SNL, Mumford & Sons showcased their homey arena anthems “I Will Wait” and “Below My Feet,” both from their new album Babel (out today overseas and in the U.S. tomorrow). Their passion came through as clearly on the Rockefeller Center stage as in their recent live-at-Red-Rocks video, and on “Below My Feet” Marcus Mumford even displayed some impressive one-man-band technique.
Still, “Watch My Feet” it wasn’t, but Mumford & Sons did find at least one area of commonality with Chicago footwork pioneers Dude ‘N Nem. That is, the word “dude”: Mumford & Sons performed as a Beatles cover band called Hey Dude in a sketch set in a London pub (via the Audio Perv). As the pints and Jerry Sandusky jokes flowed, the lads sang Help!‘s appropriately folkie “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” It wasn’t their fault a song supposedly inspired by Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s tragically closeted life was now put in the context of an infamous child molester for the service of comedy, but the performance itself was, indeed, beardo-fab.
Mumford & Sons’ straightforwardly earnest performance followed Frank Ocean’s eccentric, John Mayer-assisted arcade-game playing on the previous week’s SNL. Next on the lineup are Muse, who return to the show for their first time since 2009 on October 9, with host Daniel Craig.