Week 15: December 10th-December 16th

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We are here whether we like it or not. Week 15: the final installment of this experience. Final papers are here, finals are approaching, goodbyes are approaching, and home is near. While ignoring the monotony of assignments, we can concentrate on the final enjoyable parts of the week. Fast-forward to tuesday night; It is time for Mumford and Sons.

Not only were we seeing these gentlemen in London, but we were seeing them at the O2 Arena. This mecca for athletics housed the many track and field events that we only saw on Primetime TV back in the states. The venue itself was quite a spectacle. It really was a small city enclosed in a funky dome-shaped building with red antennae protruding from its roof. After making the obligatory purchase of a concert shirt, we were directed to our gate “through the shops and restaurants.” Excuse me? Through the shops and restaurants? Yes. Yes, indeed.

We climbed into our seats as the opening band played their set. With no knowledge of their name or anything about them, we had to make assumptions about them. As we listened to their music, they gave off a folk-rock vibe that had somewhat of an American twang to it. Needless to say, it was a nice change from what we were expecting. This band represented an ideal of rock that had been lost in translation over many years. Nowadays, you cannot hear a driving rock song from a legitimate rock band. Songs are too wrapped up in electronica, auto-tune, vocoders, and other frivolous effects. These three gents just played cleanly as a trio with a driving beat and distinctive clean guitar sound. We were hooked on them. Finally, after playing one of their best songs “When my Time Comes,” an anthem of sorts with screaming guitar and angelic vocals, the lead singer said, “For those of you who missed it, we are called DAWES. That’s D-A-W-E-S. DAWES.”

After a long wait and the archaic act of drawing a curtain, Mumford and Sons took the stage with their new hit “I Will Wait.” I was nervous about this concert for two reasons: 1. I bought these tickets as gift for someone and that someone didn’t know who they were really. 2. Mumford and Sons unfortunately played some “less than stellar” performances in their run up to this show. As the show unfolded, I ate my own words. Mumford blew me away with how polished they were. Everything was perfect. Even the environment was perfect. The crowd embraced the “midnight at the pub”-style sing-a-longs and belted every word over the beautiful harmonies on stage. They were everything we needed.

After playing their share of songs as a quartet, they also included a full band and brought DAWES back on stage to play a few songs. The highlight of our night was the two songs played by Mumford and Sons and DAWES. They played “Awake My Soul” and “With a Little Help from my Friends” as a coalition of musical fortitude. The folky roots of Mumford were balanced well by the rock undertones that DAWES added to it. I feel like I lack genuineness in saying that this one of my favorite concerts ever. I have been saying this for every concert I have attended for the last 5 months, but this is true of Mumford and Sons.

Aside from the concert, nothing really notable happened before returning home on Saturday. Leaving London was bittersweet. I had a lovely time over the last three months–I experienced amazing places in the UK (Stonehenge, Avebury, etc.), amazing places outside of the UK (Paris, Rome, and Florence), amazing people, concerts, and a great internship. It was difficult to leave all of the memories behind while boarding the plane, but it was time to come home. I was looking forward to home, the holidays, and family. Now that I am writing on this experience and reflecting, I look upon my experience with a smile to preserve the memories.

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