After an enforced two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, American folk rock band The Lumineers are back on the road.
Manchester is a favorite touring destination for the band.
Much of that may be down to Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney, who is a huge fan and has taken it upon himself to show them what the city has to offer.
Wayne even encouraged the band to sing along to the fan anthem, Slow it Down.
As Lumineers co-founder Wesley Shultz told the Manchester Evening News: “We went to a football match in Manchester that time, I had never experienced a sports match that looked like the Games Olympics, the stakes were high.
“After we hung out with Rooney and he sang Slow It Down with us in a pub, we closed a pub!
“We had a great time with him at the pub.
“The pub owner took us to this back room and it was like a sanctuary for him with all the pictures in there, and he was looking at me winking, it was a crazy experience, I got to know him there in a pub.”
Reflecting on that past experience today, Ho Hey star Wesley beams: “I was able to get into a place that I didn’t know much about, compared to the amount of access we were given, so it was a really special memory in Manchester.”
Wayne is one of thousands of fans who will no doubt be delighted to see The Lumineers back on tour, following their lockdown-inspired album Brightside.
The group will stop at the AO Arena in Manchester on Wednesday March 2 before heading to London and then Europe.
Wesley, along with fellow band founder Jeremiah Fraites, said writing and recording their fourth studio album was a chance to get something good out of the pandemic, at a time when the band, like the rest of the world, felt so helpless.
He said: “Writing the album was a feeling of beginning, middle and end – there was something uplifting about it, at a time when we all felt helpless, that it was something something you could tap into and do.
“It’s been so frustrating, every day there’s news that you think it might go away, but I see dominoes falling and now there seems to be some unification of people deciding to live with Covid as a reality.
“I finally feel like the tour is really going to happen. This tour that we desperately want to do now when for a long time it felt almost irresponsible.”
The band last came to Manchester in 2019, touring with their “deeply personal” album III, which received rave reviews.
Wesley says, “For us, it was the best tour we’ve ever done with Album III. It was deeply personal, about my mother-in-law and her struggles with alcoholism and trying to to help him through this so to see this album connect to a lot of people was surprising we did it out of passion, not related to anything commercial, something we cared about, for it to connect so well was gratifying.”
Fans can, however, expect something “next level” for the band’s return – as Wesley says, for all musicians, being able to return to the stage is “like a rocket launch”.
He says: “Seeing any group, whether it’s us or anyone in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, there really is something like a rocket launch – every group you see is like a child in a candy store.
“You don’t always appreciate what you have when you have it, whoever you see in the next few months, you’re going to see another side to these bands, we’re really happy to be up there.
“It’s different, we can’t really invent that, it feels like we’ve been waiting on the starting line for more than two years.
“You’re going to see a beautiful side not only from us, but also from the public, I think.”
The Lumineers play Manchester AO Arena on Wednesday March 2, tickets available from £42.10
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