Mumford & Sons and friends | Pop review

Roundhouse, London

It was the fervent belief of Charlie Gillett, the influential DJ who died earlier this year, that good music is good music, no matter where it comes from, who is playing it, or what instruments they are using. This gig vividly demonstrated how right he was. The culmination of an exchange project organised by the British Council, it put eight Rajasthani musicians on stage alongside Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling, and made the differences between the British, American and Indian folk traditions they work within seem negligible.

The Rajasthani group, who work in Delhi as the Dharohar Project, open the show, and they are hypnotic from the off. Clattering bells, pulsating drums and whining strings offset voices that soar in celebration, question each other or ululate mournfully. Even if the venue's amplification renders everything a touch shrill, it doesn't detract from the energy and joyousness of the sound. Their music is lit by dramatic contrast and dense with emotion, and you can sense how well it might marry with Marling's and Mumford's.

Marling's set is crisp and flinty, confident in the face of an obstreperous audience that chatters incessantly, despite her polite pleas for quiet. Mumford and Sons, meanwhile, deliver every song as though experiencing a spiritual or romantic epiphany. It's a powerhouse performance, but it's overshadowed by the final, collaborative portion of the show. Whether playing Marling's song Devil's Spoke, Mumford's song To Darkness, or a new piece the three acts wrote together in Delhi last year, their musicianship merges as seamlessly as the warp and weft of a sumptuous tapestry. One of the Dharohar Project says he feels "heartful" at sharing the stage with his British peers: it is just the word to describe how this collaboration sounds.

Contributor

Maddy Costa

The GuardianTramp

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