They couldn’t possible headline could they? Last year Mumford & Sons were one of the names banded about as potential sub-headliner, but even at that low level the suggestion was met with as much ridicule as exultation. M&S have always provoke intense feelings; they’ve been pilloried as posh boys selling faux-folk to the middle class masses at the same time as they’ve earned praise for being an earnest arena sized alternative to traditional rock (a rare band not following the U2 formula).
Love them or hate them, Mumford & Sons can’t be ignored. They’ve not only shot to the top of the UK Album charts and all but sold out (a few single seats aside) The O2 Arena, but they’ve wreaked untold havoc on the US Billboard chart. They’ve raked up 600,000 first week sales of second album Babel making it the 2012’s fastest selling album. World teen phenomenon Justin Bieber’s record of 226,000 was decimated.
A note of caution: this is the UK and not the US, and while they are clearly hugely popular, roots music doesn’t hold the same sway here, as it does there. Secondly, while Mumford & Sons have triumphed infront of big crowds we’ve yet to see how they deal with pressure. Will they draw a crowd when they have to go head to head with an act like The Cribs or Pendulum. Are the people buying M&S records Reading fans? We know Reading has fond feeling towards the band, but are they more of a Glastonbury crowd pleaser than an Reading rocker?
It’s a tough call. The Festival industry needs new talent and big draws, and Mumford & Sons certainly look like a safe bet. At worst they’d be an of the moment one off like Franz Ferdinand, The Darkness or My Chemical Romance, they are too professional and too popular to go the way of Razorlight. Still, have they earned it? If Florence Welch wasn’t worth the risk with her litany of sales and sold out shows in 2012, are M&S really worthy in 2013? Whatever the case, and wherever they play, one thing is for certain – they’ll be a damn tough act to follow.