In a torrent of sound and light, Bonobo stormed the Danforth Music Hall on Monday night. Performing with a four-piece ensemble and vocalist Szjerdene, the electronic producer breathed life into his most recent album Migration.
Bonobo (a.k.a. Simon Green) is a veteran electronic musician known for his jazz-influenced downtempo production. He received mainstream success with the release of The North Borders in 2013, where jazz waned and dance-fueled bass lines flourished. On Migration, Green borrows from old and new to create an amalgam that is rich in depth but wholly accessible.
The band took the stage with Green at centre, standing in front of an array of screens, a host of synthetic gizmos and his trusty bass at the helm. Taking spectators on a tour of Martian landscapes and snow-capped mountain, Bonobo’s stage production was on point all evening and adeptly captured the nature of Migration: an album with peaks and valleys, flow and transition.
Sticking entirely to his most recent three releases, there were no deep cuts to speak of. For an audience that appeared to be more Green’s age than “green”, this may have been a bit of a disappointment. Yet with so much music in his repertoire to pull from, there really was no shortage of material or dynamism in his nearly two hour set.
Perhaps the only downfall of the evening was Szjardene’s contribution. Given the impossible task of replicating the unique voices featured on Migration — Nicole Miglis of Hundred Waters, Nick Murphy of Chet Faker, Milosh of Rhye — the singer sounded wonderful IF you could hear her. Szjerdene’s low-register voice was mostly drowned out but the rest of the ensemble. With a crowd that was ready to lap up whatever Bonobo was putting down, the introduction of Szjardene and the more mellow tracks she was assigned to seemed to tax the audience’s energy.
Heavier dance bangers saw the band exit the stage and Green work his solo magic, while more instrumentally technical tracks allowed his woodwind and percussion partners to take the spotlight. Playing through most of Migration, Bonobo peppered in crowd favourites from Black Sands and The North Borders — a definite peak in the evening’s energy level.
Bonobo’s maturity is ever-present from beginning to end. He’s a consummate professional interested in nurturing a sound and scene that he has held prominence in for almost two decades. He’s one of the few artists out there that hasn’t stopped growing, hasn’t sold out, and hasn’t faded. If you have the opportunity, get out there and see him in person.