COMMODORE BALLROOM, OCTOBER 22, 2013
It had been just shy of six months since Simon Green’s last visit to Vancouver, though from the hum of energy in the Commodore in the hours leading up to his appearance, you would think the crowd had been waiting longer. Inevitably, most probably had; it is a testament to the genre-crossing appeal of Bonobo’s compositions that he can undertake a second round for the tour supporting his latest The North Borders release and still sell out venues.
Unfortunately, the wait was emphasized slightly by the absence of Grey Reverend, an artist who features on Bonobo’s “First Fires” and who was billed as the supporting act for the evening. The subsequent reaction that met the opening thump and percussive chime of Bonobo’s “Cirrus” was a surge of celebration; it was partially relief that the border agency hadn’t derailed the whole evening.
Utilizing the swelling energy of the opener to draw one band member after another out on to the stage, Green eventually switched from laptop to bass guitar as the group settled into a tightly timed performance. Moving swiftly and often without any break from one song to the next, we were treated to an expertly delivered journey through Bonobo’s cinematic arrangements with a revolving presence of musicians and instruments. Szjerdene, whose voice cut through the mix at just the right moments in the evening with a captivating power, provided vocals.
This was clearly a well-rehearsed and orchestrated show, and while it would have been exciting to see a little more variation on song structure, to take the show in a more improvisational direction may have detracted from the crisp presentation of the performance. For electronic music that is already based so heavily in organic sounds, it was a treat to see the energy that was added by incorporating live instrumentation. As drum and sax solos led into the encore, the infectious enjoyment in both the band and the crowd suggested that the decision to go on tour again was probably a fairly easy one.
By Andy Soloman
Photo by Jess Desaulniers-Lea