The week of April 20th marked two significant historical events.
- Posted on Apr 22nd 2011 1:10AM by Benjy Eisen
C Flanigan, Getty Images
The concept behind the Railroad Revival tour -- which kicked off on Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. -- is to bring three individually great bands together, throw them on train for a week, equip them with a bunch of instruments and other supplies, and encourage them to have a great adventure. As authentic California Zephyr rail cars zoom them along the southland and, eventually, into New Orleans, there will no doubt be countless hours of jamming, collaborating and just plain fun... but probably not that much sleep. And all the bands -- Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show -- have to do is this: disembark from the train for a couple hours each evening and perform for local audiences at five stops along the way.
But Thursday night wasn't a stop -- it was a start. With tour buses in sight of the train, and the train in sight of the stage, this was the day when the musicians were each just finding their assigned cabins, getting acquainted with their fellow passengers and settling in, as they prepared for the first boarding call.
But first, they'd have to perform opening night in Oakland -- in a port along the bay that overlooks the San Francisco skyline. Kicking off the night, and thus the Railroad Revival at large, Old Crow Medicine Show's set was filled with the kind of unbridled enthusiasm a kid might display on his first plane ride, right at liftoff. You could tell that the enthusiasm was shared by their fellow passengers, because all three acts invited members of the other bands to jam along at various points in their respective sets. Indeed, the evening had an "all aboard" feeling and by the time Mumford & Sons hit the stage, in the headlining slot, the crowd was fully on board, as well.
Opening with 'Sigh No More,' off their debut release of the same name, Mumford & Sons offered the audience all the sing-alongs that were expected; but they also used the luxury of their anchor position to showcase new material. "Since we made our first album, we've been leaning towards doing the next," explained frontman Marcus Mumford, who then led the band through 'Hope Is Wonder.' As they did in front of a massive audience at Coachella the week before, they also performed the new songs 'Lover's Eyes' and 'Lover of the Light.'
But the true spirit and character of the Railroad Revival -- the vibe that sets it apart from other package tours -- was most fully exemplified in the encore, when all three bands joined together for a cover of 'This Train is Bound for Glory.' If opening night gave any indication, it's bound for glory indeed.