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For a long time now, massive rock and roll acts have been about either the future or the past.
In the future camp there's U2, with its scientist lead guitarist and spaceship live sets, and Coldplay, with its crowd-wide light-up LED wristbands and synth-rock hybrids; going further back there was the Police, with Sting starring as a colorful Mad Max and also in actual science fiction movies; there was Peter Gabriel and Genesis with the makeup and the drum machines; further back still was Pink Floyd, with its lasers and studio laboratory of echoey future-shock—and of course David Bowie, who has been from the distant future ever since his first single, "Space Oddity," was released in 1969.
In the past camp there is, and seemingly always has been, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen, and the Eagles, and the Rolling Stones. There was Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. There was the Band. The Beatles were about the future and the past both, depending on the period: but they invented the form of massive rock and roll and could always do anything they wished with it. Over and above the past camp there was, and is, Bob Dylan, who both applied for and received a certain slippery mantle from Woody Guthrie, and has hung onto it ever since, even though he went electric right afterwards.
And now there's Mumford & Sons. If Mumford hasn't joined this pantheon of the past, they're certainly on their way. On Sunday night, they won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards for their second album, Babel. And on Tuesday night, they returned to Brooklyn's Barclays Center for a triumphant resumption of their "Gentlemen of the Road" tour. Tuesday's show—their ...
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