The Lumineers at The Arena in Los Angeles, CA

The Lumineers brought their wildly popular Brightside Tour and massive stage show to the Arena in Los Angeles. 

If you have never seen The Lumineers live, what becomes immediately apparent is that this indie folk rock band’s roster is full of very talented musicians and multi-instrumentalists. Each member plays several instruments, not just efficiently to fill in, but deftly. Each member is featured prominently throughout the two-hour set, on what seems like a game of dizzying game of musical chairs. The Lumineers’ co-founding member Wesley Shultz handles most of the guitar and vocal duties, while the other co-founder Jeremiah Fraites, in the ever-present white t-shirt, suspenders, and hat constantly moving all over the stage from one of three drum kits to guitar to piano to accordion. On Friday night, the crowd was treated to a visual, and aural feast on every song. With pianos and drum kits popping up all over the massive stage that protruded out into the audience, along with a beautiful light show, the show was performance art as much as it was a concert.

The Lumineers’ set lasted only two hours but it certainly felt as if they could go another two, and the crowd would stay for every minute. The band covered songs from their entire catalog and included all of their massive hits. They covered every song on their latest album Brightside, opening with the title track and at one point later in the show paying tribute to the late Tom Petty by covering his song “Walls.” The Lumineers also worked in a nod to the Stones by weaving in “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” into their song “Leader of the Landslide.”

Along the two-hour journey, Wesley Shultz took the time to explain the origins of more than a few songs before performing them. The Lumineers moved back and forth from a normal stage setup to a protruding area built out into the audience for more intimate acoustic stuff. It kept things fresh as they pulled from their catalog’s highly accessible material. Wesley Shultz occasionally took a stroll through the crowd in one of two specially created pits, while barefooted keyboardist and guitarist Stealth Ulvang ran and jumped off risers and pianos and whatever gave him a lift. Later in the night during the encore, Ulvang ran up into the mezzanine to take a joyous victory lap, playing guitar while running through the surprised fans. By far the most heartfelt moment came when Shultz explained the inspiration for the song “Charlie Boy,” which tells the story of a beloved uncle inspired to serve his country in the Vietnam War during the time of the Kennedy and MLK assassinations, with Charlie never making it home alive.  

Throughout the set, the audience sang along full-throated to nearly every song, including the band’s breakout hits “Ho Hey,” “Ophelia,” “Cleopatra,” “Angela,” “Donna,” and “Gloria.” For the 27-song two-hour set the audience was transported to a place where gas prices, inflation, and politics didn’t matter. They cheered, sang, and danced until the lights came up. It was for sure a slice of Americana. 

The Lumineers are without question outstanding musicians and performers, effortlessly holding their audience captive and attentive for the entire set. They inspire their fans to sing and dance while maintaining an air of humility and down-to-earth approachability, despite the reality of their international fame and the ability to effortlessly fill a massive cavern like the Arena and stadiums all over the world. 

The Lumineers will be touring North America through October of this year.

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About George Ortiz 12 Articles
George, is Southern California & Big Sky, Montana based photographer. He grew up in Los Angeles, and began shooting professionally in the mid 80's. His words & photos have appeared in local & national publications.