Even before Simon Green and his band have taken to the stage, there’s a sense that those who have gathered here in a sold out Vicar St are in for a treat tonight. Since making the decision to trade in his one-man-band status and enlisting a group of musicians with the chops to bring his laptop compositions to life, Bonobo has quickly transformed from a headphones staple to one of the few true must-see live acts currently on the circuit. The excitement is palpable as you walk through the door.
Tonight’s show might be scaled back slightly from the band’s show at the Olympia in 2013, but nonetheless the stage is still a cluttered mess of microphones and various instruments, tipping us off that tonight still won’t be an understated affair by any means. Taking to the stage just after nine, Green eases the crowd into the evening with early airings for ‘Migration’, ‘7th Seven’ and ‘Break Apart’ from this year’s Migration, providing smooth atmospherics and simultaneously showing what this collection of musicians are capable of.
No groove lasts too long however and tonight is all about contrasts. Green’s considerable discography takes in everything from THC-infused head-nodders to full on bangers and the Brighton-born producer seems to enjoy building the giddiness in the crowd before lulling and sedating with a change of tempo. It’s when he dips into his livelier material, however, that Vicar St really starts vibrating and ‘Towers’ along with recent single ‘Kerala’ has the crowd dancing and the walls sweating predictably.
Attention to detail is something that has not been scrimped on with this tour – from the rich swirl of projected colours giving one the impression of being inside a lava lamp to the synchronised lighting conveniently letting the crowd know that it is time to go ape shite. Meanwhile, footage of flying drone cameras over breathtaking geographical landscapes provides ample background imagery to the vast rich soundscapes created by the band.
For the most part, Green remains silent throughout the gig, shifting between instruments and samples, allowing Szjerdene Mulcare’s heavenly vocals to take centre stage. When he finally does speak, he makes sure to thank the crowd for making the most of cold Monday night and assures us that it won’t be long until he and his band return to these shores. Here’s hoping he finds his way back in time for the summer.
Bonobo photographed for State by Mark Earley