NEW YORK (AP) — Mumford & Sons were in the tennis spirit at the reopening of the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens.
The Grammy-winning British rockers performed a sold-out concert Wednesday for 16,000 fans at the stadium’s West Side Tennis Club, which hosted the U.S. Open until 1978. Near the end of their set, the foursome played tennis onstage — using a racket at times and a guitar and banjo at others. They also threw balls to fans in the crowd.
Mumford & Sons played the first concert at the 90-year-old stadium, where acts from Jimi Hendrix to the Beatles to the Rolling Stones performed. It was the first show at the historic venue in more than 20 years.
Mumford & Sons electrified the crowd — even when it rained lightly — playing the well-known rock hits “Little Lion Man,” ”I Will Wait” and “The Cave,” as well as other songs from their two multiplatinum albums.
“Yes, Forest Hills, Queens, New York. We just can’t believe you all came. This is amazing,” keyboardist Ben Lovett said. “We were like, ‘Are you sure you can invite 17,000 people to a tennis court?’ It hasn’t happened in a long time.”
The venue’s prime ended when the Open moved 3 miles away to Flushing Meadows, and its days as a music venue — where Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan also performed — faded amid complaints from neighbors about noise, crowds and cars parking on residential streets.
The streets were packed Wednesday as thousands headed into the stadium, with police officers guiding cars and people on the streets. Some concertgoers had trouble getting into the packed venue, and the West Side Tennis Club said Thursday it would offer refunds to any unhappy fans. The venue added that it is working out the issue for future concerts. Tickets for Wednesday’s show cost $74 with no additional fees.
Mumford & Sons and the crowd were loud, but not unruly during the two-hour show. The band played their folk-rock tunes with ease, and at times slowed things down as red-orange lights shined and small light bulbs hung in the air. They boys were like mad scientists during “Dustbowl Dance” — singer Marcus Mumford was now on the drums and he kicked it out of his way as he headed to the front of the stage to finish singing the song. Lovett — on the piano — matched his energy, throwing things around and earning cheers from the crowd.
When singing “Winter Winds,” Mumford even forgot some of the words and shouted an expletive as the crowd roared and sang it for him.
“We’re really proud we’re here to revitalize this venue,” Mumford said before singing the closer, “The Cave.”
Mumford & Sons’ sophomore album, “Babel,” won the Grammy Award for album of the year this year.
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