PORTLAND — Tickets were more coveted than Willy Wonka’s golden one for the more than 15,000 concert goers assembled at Portland’s Eastern Promenade for the sold-out Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of the Road stopover festival.

The British folk-rock band chose Portland as one of only four cities in the U.S. to host these one-day events. Saturday’s festival featured eight bands on two stages.

The four members of Mumford & Sons took the second stage at 2 p.m. to welcome the crowd and christen the Portland stopover gala. “We’re in this glorious town to celebrate,” said Ted Dwane.

“This is a dream come true for us and we’re very grateful to Portland,” added Marcus Mumford.

Just as the sun was setting over Casco Bay shortly before 8 p.m., the band returned to the stage to play as the crowd roared.

Singer/acoustic guitarist  Mumford, banjo player Winston Marshall, keys player and accordionist Ben Lovett and string bass player Dwane started off with the slow ache of “Lovers’ Eyes,” a song from their second album, “Babel,” which is due out next month.

Surprisingly, the band chose the wildly popular “Little Lion Man” as their second song and thousands of voices joined in the profanity-dropping refrain.

“White Blank Page” from their debut album “Sigh No More” was rich with harmonies from all four band members. “Timshel,” also from “Sigh,” filled the air over the Eastern Promenade with four soaring voices. “As brothers we will stand and we will hold your hand.”

Clapping took over the hill with “Roll Away Your Stone,” a song superbly adorned with Marshall’s effervescent banjo and Dwane’s soul-thumping bass.

As the last bits of daylight faded, white lights strung from the stage to the sound tent were lit, casting a warm glow around the stage.

The band’s encore was “Winter Winds,” accompanied by three horn players, and then Mumford declared his and the band’s love for Portland. The second-to-last song of the night was arguably one of the best. Thousands of hands clapped along and thousands of voices sang to “The Cave.”

And yet, the crowd was in for one more surprise. Many of the musicians from the other acts were called to the stage and the super-group played The Band’s classic “The Weight.” As the musicians left the stage, a fireworks display dazzled fans.

Simone Felice kicked off the festival early in the afternoon.

Felice played an acoustic guitar and was backed by a violinist/backup vocalist, drummer, electric guitarist and stand-up bass player.

Los Angeles pop-rock band Haim – sisters Danielle, Alana and Este Haim along with drummer Dash Hutton – was next. They tore it up with two electric guitars, drums, bass and rough-and-tumble vocals. They ended with a hard-rock guitar jam followed by a thundering round of drumming by all four band members.

Roots rockers The Apache Relay featured two electric guitars, violin, bass, keys, drums and a horn player. “American Nomad,” the band’s second album, was heavily featured.

Annie Clark – better known as St. Vincent – took the stage next. The singer-songwriter, electric guitarist and experimental vocalist played for nearly an hour. Backed by two keyboard players and a drummer, she delved into techno-pop and darker, edgier songs including “Cruel” and “Northern Lights.”

“This goes beyond normal rock ’n’ roll concerts and we all have Mumford & Sons to thank for that,” said Taylor Goldsmith from the California roots-rock band Dawes, which played next. “Nothing is Wrong,” the band’s second album, was released last summer.

Any fans growing tired from a long day in the sun were revived by an explosive set from Boston band The Dropkick Murphys. Led by singer Al Barr, the band’s Celtic-flavored punk injected a shot of adrenaline into an already exciting day. The band played “Sunshine Highway,” “Rose Tattoo” and “I’m Shipping up to Boston” to set the stage for Mumford & Sons.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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