Carkston,Michigan (June 10,2022)-It is a extremely rare when a band can front load three of its biggest hits into the first 15 minutes of a concert and still have enough left in the setlist to keep a sold-out audience on its feet the rest of the night. The Lumineers firmly entrenched themselves amongst those artists that have accomplished that feat on Friday night at the Pine Knob Music Theatre by doing just that while delivering a performance that had fans comparing it to some of the best in the venues 50 year history.
The Denver-launched duo of Esley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, along with their four touring members, opened the night with the title track from their fourth and latest album, “Brightside,” then rolled out the “A” list singles “Cleopatra,” “Ho Hey,” with all six musicians performing while lined up across the front of the stage. As if that wasn’t enough to get the Friday night party revved up, the group segued right into “Angela,” throwing down a kind of gauntlet for itself and others who dare to follow. But to the bands credit, that antidote propelled the 15,000 who packed Pine Knob into a perfect balance with the band for every note after that, while on their feet and singing along for the entirety of the one hour forty five minute, mesmerizing set.
Flexibility and fluidity continue as the benchmark that make the Lumineers so musically appealing to the masses. The band moved back and forth from a traditional tiered stage setup to a rounded area built out into the audience for the more intimate acoustic stuff while stepping back into the aforementioned line for the more appeasing offerings. Each one of the band members played at least two instruments during the show, and often more. There’s a bit of formula in the dramatic, swelling arrangements of the group’s songs, but with enough tonal variety and rhythm changes to make everything sound fresh, and its four-album library yielded sweeping, cathartic and often life-affirming anthems that went down well in fresh outdoor air.
“One thing that occurred to me during the past to years is how much importance there is in being together,” Schultz said during the encore, and he and his bandmates were clearly reveling in the occasion, all smiles and filled with in-the-present energy — none more so than barefoot keyboardist Stelth Ulvang, whose hyperactive antics found him leaping around the three-tiered stage and even playing piano with his feet during “Birthday.” Schultz, meanwhile, made a couple of flesh-pressing trips into the general admission pit, while Fraites played from both his drum kit and a kick-drum at the front of the stage.
The show itself was also a kind of double celebration for the band, serving both the recently released “Brightside” album and the 10-year anniversary of its self-titled triple-platinum debut with eight songs each. “I don’t thnk we ever thought we’d be out here now, with this many people,” Schultz noted before performing the debut’s opening track, “Flower in Your Hair,” which gave the Lumineers an opportunity to dig deep into that set for cuts such as “Dead Sea,” “Slow it Down” and “The Big Parade.” “Charlie Boy” was a profound as well, with Schultz explaining the song’s backstory about an uncle who was killed in action during the Vietnam War and giving it present day resonance by talking about his sister, who’s been married to a Green Beret for the past 20 years.
At the emotional height of the spirited, 23-song set, the Lumineers were joined on stage by the nights opener to sing a song written by a third artist — one who is no stranger to the Pine Knob stage but who unfortunately will never see it again. The band Caamp joined the Lumineers for the latter’s cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Walls (Circus)” in what served as a fitting microcosm of the night: Two lead vocalists filling the amphitheater air with stripped down, but by no means boring, accompaniment. The group also slipped a bit of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” into “Leader of the Landslide,” before letting the confetti storm fly for “Birthday,” part of a eclectic yet generous 25-minute encore set.
“This is the best crowd we’ve played to in a long time,” Schultz said toward the end of the show, “and I’m not just blowing smoke. It’s true.” That was certainly believable, and it’s likely many of the more than 15,000 who packed the venue left Pine Knob feeling that the Lumineers were the best band that’s played there in a long time too.
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