Supporting Mumford and Sons on a UK tour with only two EPs released so far must have been a daunting prospect for folk five-piece Matthew and the Atlas. I managed to catch them at the Hammersmith Apollo back in October, and thoroughly enjoyed their set, so I was pretty excited to be reviewing their launch for their new EP, Kingdom of our Own. The launch was being held at The Borderline, an HMV venue in Central London. Considering it only holds a capacity of 275, it seemed incredibly busy, and about an hour before Matthew and the Atlas were even due on stage it became increasingly difficult to find a good spot to see the stage. The gig was hosted by Communion, a favourite for new folk, and featured support from Daughter, Stokes, William and Rachel Sermanni, all of which gave thoroughly enjoyable and confident performances. The standout support was Rachel Sermanni, who managed to evoke a silence among the crowd despite being accompanied by only an acoustic guitar. The band came on stage to a raucous round of applause and cheers that would suggest that they have a loyal following already. The band opted for no introductions and instead launched straight into ‘Beneath the Sea‘, (a track from first EP Scavengers), which builds to a crescendo of harmonies and foot-stamping percussion. Matthew and the Atlas bear obvious comparisons to Mumford and Sons, both in style of music and lyrically, but the notable live difference is Matthew Hegarty’s voice, raspier and huskier than that of Marcus Mumford, and it seems to fit the rootsier feel of Matthew and the Atlas’ songs. Given that this is their third EP, my expectations for their live set were pretty high, and I wasn’t disappointed. The set consisted of all of the songs from both To the North and new EP Kingdom of our Own. It’s very easy to compare Matthew and the Atlas to a lot of folk acts around at the moment, but what seems to set them apart from so many others is the way Matthew is able to master both the loud, crashing folk sounds associated with bands such as Mumford and Sons which is evident in tracks such as ‘I Followed Fires’ and ‘Come out of the Woods‘. ‘Within the Rose‘, taken from the To the North EP, is one of these songs. Matthew and Lindsay’s voices seem to perfectly complement each other and reflect beautifully around the walls of the Borderline. From the new EP comes ‘The Waves‘, another slower song that prompts the audience to stop talking and really listen. Following an encore of up-tempo bluegrass number ‘I Will Remain‘, Matthew and the Atlas leave the stage and appear to be genuinely humbled by the warm reception they have received. Despite encouragement from the crowd, there is still very little interaction between songs and the band appear to be relatively nervous and shy, it’s easy to forget they haven’t been playing live for years. For a relatively intimate gig, Matthew and the Atlas have made an impressive impact on the crowd there, many of whom make a dash for the merchandise table as soon as the gig ends. They’ve managed to perform a set of 11 songs that hold the attention of the audience throughout and firmly prove that they are able to entertain audiences in a live atmosphere as well as creating really lovely folk songs on record. I was so impressed by their performance I’ve just booked tickets to see them at the Luminaire this December, and if you haven’t had the pleasure of catching Matthew and the Atlas live yet; I suggest you find a way of making it happen.