Live review: Bonobo at ABC 4/10/13

team-bonobo1A few songs into the set Bonobo, aka Si Green, says sorry for having not played Glasgow for some time.

Furthermore, he mentions this is the first time he’s brought a full band to Glasgow, Green and co are in town in support of his latest long player, The North Borders.

With a sold out ABC tonight’s show is a hot ticket and expectations are high following The North Borders release in March.

With a quick “Hi” Green hurries onto stage alone for the moment to kick of proceedings with ‘Cirrus’, the third track from the new album.

Having seemed non too fussed with the support the Glasgow crowd have began at this point to appear somewhat slumbered but a couple of keys in and the ABC is ready to rock (or whatever the electro equivalent).

Managing to seamlessly drift into a pulsing rendition of ‘Sapphire’ Green’s cohorts start to manifest on stage as he dabbles in a mix of bass, keys and synth pads simultaneously.

By the time Green says hello again and begins ‘Towers’ an army of musicians have been assembled together where singer Szjerdene is the musical icing on the cake to provide live vocals.

Tonight, she assumes responsibility for her own tracks alongside those sung by various others on record.

Immediately winning many a handclap with a fantastic delivery of her own ‘Towers’, she continues to impress throughout the set with highlights including ‘Nightlite’ and ‘Transits’.

No doubt in part due to his more than capable seven piece band Bonobo manages to hit the spot in a live setting where so many of his contemporaries prove a let down.

Merging ‘solo’ tracks such as previous album standout ‘Kong’ with full band horns/brass et al numbers with ease Green sets the benchmark for live electronica.

That’s not to say his set should be defined as limited to electronica; another of the gigs crowd pleasing moments see the soulful trip hop and jazz infused magnificence of old favourite ‘Nightlite’

As the horns belted and the flutes fluted this writer was transported to a dreamy paradise reminiscent of a Cinematic Orchestra concert many moons ago with ‘Emkay’.

Indeed, I had thought it impossible for such beauty to be repeated in a live setting other than by Bonobo’s Ninjatune label mates but this showing and ‘Emkay’ in particular have led to a rethink.

Following this no mean feat Green and the band go on to wow Glasgow further with ‘El Toro’ and ‘We Could Forever’; the former in particular allowing room for band members such as the sax player and cap wearing drummer to showcase their considerable talents.

Indeed, the drum solo outro of ‘El Toro’ could be said to require a special mention as such was the ferocity displayed it should carry its own health warning.

To balance out said health warning we are then treated to a sax solo to finish the track, which is as luscious as they come.

Unsurprisingly the set is dominated by the latest album, however that does not prevent one of the night’s best receptions being afforded to penultimate set number ‘The Keeper’.

Bit of peace, bit of love” Szjerdene’s hauntingly beautiful vocals are perfectly complimented with an effortlessly uplifting collection of atmospherics masterfully recreated by the band; perhaps even bettering the recorded version heard on previous Bonobo album Black Sands.

With a handclapping encore sending a sold out Glasgow crowd on its merry way on an otherwise miserable Friday night all that remains is applause for each individual band member prior to set closing.

On such a showing its fair to say earlier apology graciously accepted good sir, however beware, by spoiling us with a live setup this good the fans may never allow a return of the classic DJ set shenanigans ever again!

Words: Andy Quigley


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