LIVE: Bonobo @ Roundhouse, Camden
A Live Show To Take Your Breath Away
This Saturday past (May 18th), the legendary venue of Camden’s Roundhouse played host to an all-day extravaganza in celebration of Bonobo’s stunning, newly-released album ‘The North Borders’. He’s embarked on a tour that began in the States, and as this was the first show of the UK leg, it acted as a homecoming for the magical producer, and what a homecoming it was to be a part of.
Numerous bands performed up until the main event once the doors opened at two, in a few different rooms, all more of the left-field flavour in true Ninja Tune spirit, the label-home of Bonobo. The Invisible, Illum Sphere, and Letherette were all flying the flag for it too, and they were ideal representatives of the experimental sound that the label has been come to be known for. It’s not just the sound of the label that is experimental however, with Ninja Tune videos being some of the most eye-catching of the medium in recent years. This was brought to light by Adam Buxton in the most amusing and educational of ways through his BUG showcase, a periodic video exhibition he hosts, and this time around putting Ninja Tune artists’ videos under the microscope. Bonobo’s own ‘Cirrus’ was a stand-out, directed by the mad-genius that is Cyriak, as well as his video for Eskmo's 'We Got More'. As the evening edged closer to the main event, there was still special guest and newest member of the Ninja Tune family Machinedrum, who clobbered the crowd with his tribal beats, and lastly, legendary DJ Gilles Petersen, who ended his set with a mean reggae riddim.
The excitement at 9:45 was tangible in the air, everyone knew what they were about to experience, and when Bonobo, a.k.a. Simon Green, and a few of his band members took to the stage, and began the percussive attack of lead-single ‘Cirrus’, there was a cheer so rapturous it was probably heard down at the Lock. Now with six albums-worth of dazzling material to choose from, there was a mix of old and new, from which Green plucked gems from all night. Oldies ‘Stay The Same’ and ‘Nightlite’ were both sung silkily by previous collaborator Andreya Triana and new find Szjerdene, respectively, while ‘Recurring’ was a master-class in sampling and live drumming, and the fusing of the two. The blue light that swathed the crowd as ‘Emkay’ was played couldn’t have been any more fitting, the track’s vibe as cool and chilled as the colour, while ‘Sapphire’ and oldie ‘Ketto’ demonstrated the sometimes deliciously dark undertones to some of Bonobo’s material. Unfortunately, the unexpected fire alarm that went off during previous album’s ‘El Toro’, and the subsequent rushed exit from the venue left a bitter taste in many of the people’s mouths. For those that didn’t have to catch the tube back home, however, there was a fitting end to the show, as Bonobo and his band returned to the stage and finished the show off the way they planned to.
‘The North Borders’ is a beautiful creation, from a wonderfully accomplished producer, musician and downtempo pioneer, and it translates into one of the most impressive and unforgettable live shows you could ever experience. Don’t miss it next time around.