Marcus Mumford recently released his debut solo album (self-titled) and after giving fans a glimpse of the songs live during his iHeartRadio Festival set, the Mumford & Sons frontman properly celebrated its release with an iHeartRadio LIVE performance and Q&A hosted by iHeartRadio's Booker.
Backed by a full band and equipped with an acoustic guitar, Mumford began the show with the album's single, “Grace.” After that song, he told the intimate audience “I’m going to really murder a few Mumford & Sons songs for you, if that’s alright.” He then dove into powerful acoustic renditions of “Awake My Soul” and “The Cave” off the band’s 2009 debut album Sigh No More.
When asked if the deeply personal songs were written in the past with this project in mind, Mumford admitted “I’m not that intentional. None of this was that well thought out."
"I set myself a task in January 2021 of writing songs just for the sake of writing songs again, not with any audience in mind or any kind of structure around it," he added. "I was just going to follow my nose and so off I went and I wrote the first two songs on the record ['Cannibal' and 'Grace'] in that spirit, and then the rest kind of cascaded from there. I refused to refer to it as a solo record until I had all the songs because it felt like just pieces of a story that I hadn’t put together yet.”
He spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, collaborating with people he’d worked with in the past, and some that he hadn’t. “I fell back in love with writing songs again and was in less denial that I’m a songwriter, ‘cause for some long periods in my adult life I sort of thought the whole thing is a joke — and it is — some people take songwriting too seriously.”
Mumford’s next set of songs were plucked from (self-titled), treating fans to live renditions of “Better Off High,” “Cannibal,” Prior Warning,” “Dangerous Game,” and “Go in Light."
Phoebe Bridgers was one of the many collaborators on (self-titled) and Mumford revealed he met her at Newport Folk Festival around six years ago. “We played together. I sort of stalked her," he said with a chuckle. "I’m not that weird but I can be a bit weird if I’m a real fan of some music and I’ll try really hard to find the person and tell them how much I love it. So that’s what I did and watched her show, then she kindly agreed to play a Radiohead song with us." The pair stayed friends after that.
Later on in the interview, Mumford recalled someone asking what his hope for the record was the night before shooting the “Cannibal” music video. “I said, ‘my genuine hope is that people are able to relate to it through their own stories and their own eyes, and hear their own stories in this music," he said, "because that’s one of the most magical things about music to me.”
As fans know, Steven Spielberg made his music video directorial debut with “Cannibal,” and Mumford opened up about the emotional reason why he decided to be a part of it. “The reason Steven wanted to help with that video was because he connected to the song,” he explained. “He had a completely different story — completely unrelated story — but said ‘I connected very deeply to that song when I heard it.’ And he got it. He got it. So that was why, among some other reasons, that it was in the safest pair of hands in the world.”
Mumford started his last set of songs with “When I Get My Hands On You” — a song by The New Basement Tapes, which is a supergroup that consists of Mumford, Jim James, Elvis Costello, Taylor Goldsmith, and Rhiannon Giddens. Together, the band wrote a collection of songs based on uncovered lyrics written by Bob Dylan in 1967. He wrapped up the night with one more solo song, “Better Angels.”
See the full setlist below.
Marcus Mumford iHeartRadio LIVE Setlist
Awake My Soul
Better Off High
Go In Light
When I Get My Hands On You