It's no secret that Mumford and Sons go at a breakneck pace when the ensemble is crossing the globe on their stopovers, from South Africa to Colorado, and countless points in between. What is surprising is the way Mumford and Sons have managed to maintain the tradition from their early days of turning up to surprise audiences and other performers alike for a special time of music. More than a decade since the metaphysical folk maestros began to cultivate global throngs of dedicated fans, they proved again this weekend that their knack for both surprise and spectacular song are fully intact.

Mumford and Sons pulled off the grandest feat ever on July 28, as secret headliners at the revered Newport Folk Festival, as reported by Rolling Stone on July 29, as well as by other sources.

Not missing a beat

For much of the past year, Mumford and Sons have been musically clandestine as the band concentrated its efforts on a fourth album. Marcus Mumford has also maintained his efforts in assisting those impacted by the Grenfell Towers fire. There has been a festival appearance here and there, but the arrival at the Newport Folk Festival was truly a musical treat for everyone in attendance. Few bands in history so authentically exude the pure delight in performance and collaboration that Mumford and Sons consistently manifest, and their buoyant 15-song set is further evidence.

Folk and Americana luminaries had already graced the stage before Saturday (July 28), with David Crosby joining Jason Isbell on “Ohio” and “Wooden Ships.” Isbell has celebrated a remarkable personal and artistic renaissance in recent years, getting nominated for the 2018 Americana Awards, which takes place in September.

Mumford and Sons have always taken to the mantra that “the more the merrier” always applies to an enhanced musical experience, and many special guests came alongside the musicians midway through their set.

The memories, the songs, and the once-in-a-lifetime sounds and visions of heavenly voices singing from the stage far exceed the face value of any ticket.

A grand guest list

The first sonic delight served was a cover of Radiohead's “All I Need,” with Phoebe Bridgers invited to add her dulcet tones to the bass-driven track of devotion from “In Rainbows.” Ironically, some disgruntled fans accused Mumford and Sons of trying to become Radiohead or a mockup of Coldplay with “Wilder Mind.” The third collection from the foursome offered more touches of electronica and driven rock, but still possessed the depth in lyrics and subject that are signatures.

Marcus Mumford has often spoken of his high regard for Radiohead, and this live performance was a lovely nod, marked by Ted Dwane’s bass line

Old friends are never forgotten for Mumford and Sons, and new ones are always welcome. Brandi Carlile came in on “The Boxer” and on “Kansas City” from The New Basement Tapes’ Mumford completion of the Bob Dylan lyrics. Jerry Douglas reunited with the British boys who have referred to him as “Uncle Jerry,” adding his dobro magnificence.

The final song was truly a divine experience, and the radiant and resonant presence of Mavis Staples inhabited the stage for the beloved classic by The Band, “The Weight,” accompanied by the compliment of musical greatness.

The spirit was flowing and full, in case anyone there could miss it from the smiles and Phoebe Bridgers’ joyful hops.

Just a bit over a week ago, Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall were cheering on England at the World Cup in Moscow.