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Grammy Awards: Dylan, Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers bring an acoustic fury


Some classic instrumentation can go a long way, and Mumford & Sons have been a steady-building success story, but the act's run-through of "The Cave" should add some acceleration. The lyrics are mysterious, and the imagery is more foreboding than anything Eminem will cook up tonight, as the band brings plenty of tension to its acoustic works. 

The Avett Brothers' "Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise" started slower, but gradually built, and by the time the band starts singing that "darkness" is taking over, the mood and tone of the music reflects it. The moment that everyone was waiting for, however, was the arrival of Bob Dylan, making one of his rare Grammy appearances. He saing "Maggie's Farm," with all of the Avetts and Mumfords backing him. The mike was wobbly at first, but Dylan's voice is wobbly, so it doesn't really matter. It's a song of personal revolution, and standing up to an unjust employer, so it worked well for these recessionary times.

-- Todd Martens

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (17)

Here's the video of Dylan's performance:

Wow the last thing i thought i would hear at the grammy awards was an actual band playing music that actually sounded good ,with lyrics that meant something. They were even playing instuments. In a world so full of ridicoulous costumes ,shiny lights , and corporate ideas of " what will sell" , and not " what is good" .It was a rare treat to hear mumford sons perfoming "the cave" tonight, A powerfull example of substance over style.

I love folk!!! these guys made the show worth watching.. i wish iron and wine would have been invited to perform. let's just hope gaga, katy perry or rihanna don't get a crazy idea of redoing folk music.. they always want to "innovate" and ruin music

I couldn't agree more. I just saw this amazing performance(s). I love Mumford & Sons and seeing them perform with the Avett Brothers and Mr. Bob Dylan...wow...the MUSIC transports you to another more magical era of years past.

The most eye opening live performance group at the Grammys in years.......without discarding the theatrics, orchestrated costumes and vey good live performances, the Mumfords stole the show with grit and stripped down music that made me realize that there is hope for this record industry side show for years to com.

I truly feel hope for live music again

This is what REAL music is like. There's tons of it out there. Quit watching the Grammys and start listening to what you want to listen to, not the radio or what the record-sales driven grammys want you to listen to.

Mumford and Sons are awesome. They are one of the best young groups around. Avett Bros. show great promise as well. To see all those young musicians backing up the premier song writer of the 60's was breath-taking. There is hope for the future of music. Inspirational music is not dead - you just have to look a bit to find it. I am over 60 and I love some of these groups. I am so glad Arcade Fire won best Album as well!

I've been listening to Mumford & Sons for months. I have to wonder how a band that peaked at 61 on the Hot 100 with a single track managed to secure a berth on the Grammy Awards show. Maybe Dylan wouldn't appear unless he got to play with somebody decent?

In any case, the praise is well-deserved.

Mumford & Sons are awsome and I've been listening to them before anyone outside of England knew who they were. The Avetts are far better however and most people don't know how diverse they are. Go back and listen to the music they were putting out 3-4 years ago. I hope their next album will be more reminiscent of that.

Congratulations Avett Brothers - Well done! Happiness = to see you perform!

The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons.... WONDERFUL!!!!! Too bad they were allotted so little time. I could have done without Ga-GAG. She was a caterpillar? Why hasn't she been exterminated? I realize music is art, however her theatrics are pure hog wash. Laughed almost the whole way through with her Madonna wanna be act....it was like watching a parody. ANYWAY!....Way to go Avetts and Mumfords! You were wonderful and just cleansed the music pallet for a broader audience.....They got a taste of REAL talent, from you!

I had never even heard of Mumford & Sons before last night but I was completely blown away by their performance. My wife and I rewatched their performance four times just because we couldn't believe how good it was.

I hope fans of Eminem and Lady Gaga took note as to how good music really can be when the musicians play their own instruments, write their own songs, and sound just as good or better live than they do on their albums.

that was my first exposure to avett brothers....excellent! i looked on playlist.com for their song, but it didn't match the energy of the rendition on the grammy's. great passion, and if i'm not mistaken, i heard a harmonica near the end...was it dylan? i didn't see anyone on stage with one.

Matt, you said it.

On a night where flamboyant costumes and bright lights wrapped in eggs and feathers where dominant, Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers & Bob Dylan put on a real show. They proved that music at its core can still survive in a place where "presentation" is what everyone seems to be infatuated with.

Glitz and glamor, bright lasers and lights that can give you seizures where no comparison to the raw emotion that both Mumford & Sons along with The Avett Brothers put into their performances. The combination of horns behind Mumford & Sons and the strings supplied by The Avett Brothers cellist added a level no other artist would duplicate.

Watching them on stage, you could tell they were in love with what they do. And they proved last night that stomping your feet, rocking your head and losing yourself in the moment speaks a thousand times louder than what sells now-a-days.

There was also a tinge of irony in Dylan's performance that I haven't yet seen acknowledged. He played the song with an all acoustic backing band, yet "Maggie's Farm" was the first song in his 1965 Newport Folk Festival set in which he famously "went electric".
Even though this doesn't mean much coming from me (I would have said this if Bob played "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"), His performance last night was easily the best. Cee Lo and Eminem weren't bad either.

Was that a smile trying to crack through on the stony countenance of Mean Old Bob? Damned if it wasn't. As they stood at the end, in the front row, was a beaming Neil Young. The torch has been passed. Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers are the Roving Children of the Old Masters. Finally: Hope.

"Mysterious" lyrics by Mumford and Sons? Try reading the Odyssey by Homer -- it's all there. Literary band, less literate blogger.


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