In early 2009, a little-known band named Mumford & Sons played at The Cellars at Eastney.
It was a memorable night for the amassed crowd, not least because this folk quartet would go on to become one of the biggest bands of today.
Their debut album, Sigh No More, was released eight months after that fateful gig. It reached No.1 in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and eventually peaked at No.2 on the UK Album Chart and the Billboard 200 in the US.
The follow-up, Babel, was released in September and still sits in the Top 10.
Last night they kicked-off a UK tour that gives fans a chance to see them back in smaller venues again.
The 14-date run is split into six theatres followed by eight arenas in the aptly titled The Tour Of Two Halves.
The second night of the tour sees the band return to Portsmouth in a sold-out date at Portsmouth Guildhall.
‘We’re confident and happy to be where we are as a band,’ says Ben Lovett (keys, accordion, drums).
‘Everything that’s happened with us has exceeded expectations. It’s all much bigger than what we were prepared for.
‘So when we came to recording this record we had a choice: to shy away from that, or to realise that people dig what we’re doing, and make something robust, with that energy.’
‘When we made the first album it was to be a snapshot of Mumford & Sons in 2009. This is exactly the same — but it’s us now. And there’s a lot of the live energy in there. That was very much what we were trying to capture,’ says Ted Dwane (string bass, drums, guitar).
‘I think over the past few years we’ve realised how much we have to play the songs that we’ve recorded,’ adds frontman Marcus Mumford. ‘So we thought harder about these songs, feeling confident that we could play them again and again and again.
‘However you record a song gives it its own life.
‘Ted always talked about wanting to make an album like a story,’ he adds. ‘Not necessarily one that has a plot, but one that you can listen from top to bottom and it makes sense. I think that’s what we’ve tried to do, and what we’ve done.’
Winston Marshall (banjo, dobro, guitar) concludes: ‘And now we’ve finished it we can get touring again, which is what we set out to do when we started the band. Back to business.’