Live Review

Bonobo, Great Hall, Cardiff

Bonobo are out to wow and do so with staggering ease.

Photo: Kait Mordey
Next month will mark the twelfth anniversary of Simon Green’s inaugural full length as Bonobo, the downtempo delight ‘Animal Magic’. And after a slow but sure step forward on 2013’s ‘The North Borders’, the live prowess of one of the UK’s finest producers is clear as he brings his world tour of the album to the Welsh capital.

Brighton based Dauwd dowses a packed Great Hall in punctuated percussion and a spotless attention to detail that braces the gentlest side of house and techno. Focused on quality live mixing, he turns up the heat enough to lure evening into night and is a soulful, synth full addition to the ever expansive underground.

Soon to follow is Green, emerging alone into a haze of blue to send recent single ‘Cirrus’ into its mesmeric ripple of chimes and lushly layered drum beats. Once the mic littered stage is filled with the rest of the Bonobo set up, the nine piece allow the full majesty of the recorded sound to thrive; movements ebb and sway with increasing intricacies and individual musicianship demonstrates the real time complexity of the current release. It’s a masterful opening few minutes.

Szjerdene floats elegantly onstage for ‘Towers’ and her clean, distinctive vocals front the larger ensemble for the blissful ‘Stay the Same’ from benchmark LP ‘Black Sands’. And while the narrative vigour of new track ‘Transits’ impresses later on as a pre-encore closer, unsurprisingly it’s this lauded 2010 album which proves the most popular on the night. As the ethereal swirling of ‘Kiara’ matches its recorded perfection, the repeat patterns of ‘Kong’ are as enticing as ever and ‘We Could Forever’ picks up the chill in the air and dices it into a side salad of bass. An unapologetic solo from drummer Jack Baker and the urgency of a live brass section thrills throughout ‘El Toro’, the regal saxophone riff flirting with playful percussion.

The ‘Black Sands’ tracks sound as fresh as they did three years ago, the most comatose offerings from ‘The North Borders’ are lost to a jittery Saturday night crowd and at times the immersive soundscapes of the new record become a trifle self involved. Yet as a live outfit Bonobo are out to wow and do so with staggering ease.

Green continues to spread the boundaries of electronica and well over a decade into their existence, Bonobo are surely at the peak of their performing powers.

Tags: Bonobo, Features

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