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March 12, 2012 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Review – Bon Iver

One never knows what to expect when the front man of the sold out show (a show you spent a week’s rent on) comes on stage looking as though he has spent the last six months in the wilderness. Seeing someone who could out-indie any local kid in the room was a sight to behold; the music he made was, likewise, a sound to behold.

Justin Vernon and his nine-piece band form the spectacle that is Bon Iver. Their near two-hour set encompassed songs from both albums and their first EP, illustrating why they deserved the 2012 Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album. Vernon’s famous falsetto was even more impressive live, hitting every note with an ease that would make any eunuch jealous. But we know how high his voice can go–on this night, it was his lower vocal register, emphasized infrequently on recorded material, which really showed off the range he is capable of.

Vernon’s bandmates provided him with able support, most of them playing a couple of instruments across the night– complex combinations of percussion, saxes, trumpet, synth, keyboard, guitars and violin. It’s hard to believe no two members, all of whom were introduced by name and American state, hailed from the same place, a testimony to the many hours of practice that must have been required to achieve such a tight ensemble.

That said, the highlight of the night was unambiguously Vernon’s solo song, ‘Re: Stacks’. After expressing his delight at the intimacy shared by the band and the crowd, despite their geographical and experiential differences, Vernon poignantly described ‘Re: Stacks’ as a song about being alone. The air was electric as he commandeered every fan’s full attention; in the crowd’s silence, you became eerily aware of the fact that the person behind you was actually breathing.

This tender moment, however, was offset by plenty of songs utilising the ostentatious drumset, lighting sequences, and full harmonies available with the nine-piece band and touring tech support. A well deserved standing ovation left the band gushing, “we will never forget this show”. Neither will we, Bon Iver. Neither will we.

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