Monday, June 14, 2010

Musings on Mumford and Sons and a Vineyard Conference

This last week I attended the regional conference for Vineyard churches in the southwest region.  While the conference itself was really good with times of worship, workshops, and some great messages by leaders in the movement, the most impacting moments for me were the late night conversations with friends, the impromptu song sharing on the back porch (thank you David Linhart for sharing your songs) and the concert with Mumford and Sons that I got to catch after the first night’s session.

above clip of David Linhart

I had never heard Mumford and Sons before but a friend of mine bought Dina and I tickets to go see them at a club called the Rhythm Room in Phoenix (what a great friend).  Seeing a band that you have never heard of can be real fun because there is no frame of reference for what you are getting into.  Before we caught the show my friend let me briefly hear 2 songs and I really liked what I heard from this English band that plays an energetic and emotionally charged folk rock with electric banjo, upright bass, keys, and acoustic guitar.  The little bit I heard before hand really got me interested in what they would be like live though I didn’t really even have a clue what I was about to experience.

We wandered into the sold out club which was packed mainly with a crowd of a couple of hundred folks mainly in their twenties.  Though we had missed the opening band because of the conference earlier that evening we arrived soon enough to stake out a bit of concrete on which to stand for the next couple of hours.  The band came out to the raucous cheers of the crowded club and then proceeded to launch into the title track from their latest offering called Sigh No More.  The song opened with four part harmony vocals over a subdued acoustic guitar with the lyrics,
“Serve God love me and mend
This is not the end
Lived unbruised we are friends
And I'm sorry
I'm sorry…”
Over the next few minutes the song began to build as front man Marcus Mumford stomped his kick drum, pulsating energy through the expectant crowd that began to move in time with the music.  Then in a moment the music almost dropped to a whisper as Marcus began singing:
Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be (x4)

And once again the song began to build to a crescendo as the crowd joined in singing those words with passion and heart.
above clip of Mumford and Sons performing Sigh No More live

As the first song ended I was amazed at how connected I felt to God and to the others in the room of this club I had never been to listening to a band I had never heard.  The concert continued in this vein until the encore a little over an hour later.  This was not a typical concert by any means.  There were so many moments of transcendence where the veil of the ordinary gig in a club were shattered and we came singing together into a larger place where our hearts were opened to something greater.

Earlier that evening I had sung worship songs with a room full of Vineyard pastors but in that dive bar in south Phoenix I was again worshipping to songs I had yet to learn.  I left the concert that night feeling as if I had encountered God.  I don’t say this because the music was so good or the band-members so skilled but because the music and the lyrics pointed beyond the gig to another place not so far a way and to another person who loves us without measure. 

What was beautiful about that evening was how the people were singing like happy drunks in an Irish pub and yet there was a joy in the room that was somehow otherworldly and beyond the simple good feelings of a pint of brew with friends. 

I left the concert feeling love in my heart and perhaps a little more clarity as if things had been put back into the right perspective again.  I spent the rest of the eveining pondering the events from the conference to the concert and how I had connected with God at both but yet how much more I had seemed to connect with God and others at the show that night.  Then I thought of Jesus and how much time he spent at parties and a people’s homes around meals and even at a wedding feast where he not only was a part of the festivities but even provided the wine to keep things going.  Jesus never seemed to be uncomfortable at a party.  If anything he was uncomfortable around religious gatherings.  That evening I had a very real sense of what it might have been like to be at a party with Jesus—people were singing, and dancing, and filled with joy but more than that—a bit of heaven was in their midst.


Pi Man said...

Glad you got refreshed, Bro. And a great closing paragraph, esp the part about how Jesus was not uncomfortable at parties, but often was at "religious" gatherings. Thanks. TA

steven hamilton said...

was the same way! a friend of mine from the Uk turned me on to Mumford and sons late last year, and when i got their album, i couldn't stop listening...from roll away your stone to dust bowl dance, they had me hooked musically, lyrically...and afterward...i can't really say it better than you did: i felt connected to God.

gdoug said...

Great insights. thanks you so much for not elaborating in more detail about the mostly 20 something crowd. Thanks for hanging with the oldest guy in the room.

Casey Corum said...

well said Crispin. It was a profound night for me on so many levels. Hope filled, life giving, transcendent, powerful... All with a pint in hand. Not too bad.

J@VLG said...

Great stuff. Thanks for the thoughts. Hopefully there were no hidden cameras on Tuesday night.


czechaitian said...

Crispin, thanks for the shout out! Great to meet over this weekend you're describing. Beautiful take on the Mumford show, also my introduction to the band, and I was in the same space of appreciating the otherworldliness of the concert-- strangely worshipful though no one, I think, was trying to be.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. So true about the worship element to their music!
Interestingly, although you may already be aware, Marcus Mumford of the band is the son of the lovely couple who direct Vineyard in the UK..

Jared said...

You know those guys are Vineyard pastors kids?

Jared said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dave said...

John and Eleanor Mumford (Marcus' parents) are head of Vineyard UK:

susaning said...

So then you may not be aware that Mumford's parents have been part of the Vineyard for like 20+ years. I think they were on staff in Anaheim for years... and now his parents head up Vineyard Ireland and UK. So you felt God because Mumford is rooted in Vineyard and he clearly gets God. SO GREAT!

Polar Bear Periodical said...

Going to a mumford concert tonight in portsmouth! Can't wait! great blog. there is definately something spiritual and deep about their music. excited to see them live, tonight!

Polar Bear Periodical said...

Going to a mumford concert tonight in portsmouth! Can't wait! great blog. there is definately something spiritual and deep about their music. excited to see them live, tonight!

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