This past year Montreal has been in the midst of Bonobo fever. Not only was this Bonobo’s 3rd appearance this year in Montreal, after a stop at the Théâtre Telus back in April and a DJ set at Osheaga in August, but he also managed to sell out the Metropolis on a Tuesday night. The masses were denver fashion week 2019 tickets clearly antsy for tickets Bonobo to start, after a generic and lackluster set by the appropriately named Paul Basic, and greeted the British musician like a rock star (there was even crowd surfing throughout the night… at a Bonobo show). They were already grooving well before the music actually got groovy and offered encore-worthy applause after only the first track of the night, a fantastic rendition of new album The North Borders’ first single Cirrus.
Simon Green was joined on stage with a revolving door of musicians, including a brass trio, multiple percussionists and a solid vocalist. When she came on stage to perform the first of many tracks Transits I found myself contemplating another electronic act with live instrumentation, Disclosure, and how their lack of vocalists at Osheaga prevented their good performance from being a great one. I’d argue that at times throughout the night, the reverse happened. On certain tracks, notably the Grey Reverend featuring smooth jam First Fires, were hindered by her powerful vocals. A “less is more” approach might have been more appropriate for certain tracks. Bonobo and his band mates would go full maximalist at times and pared down at others, but not always at the right moment. The brass trio would at times drown out some of the interesting subtleties of Bonobo’s creations, while highlighting them on other tracks. It was a bit of a paradox to be honest.
In the end you have to applaud Green for being a true musician through and through: never hogging the limelight, mostly blending in with his band, while performing certain tracks solo when necessary. “Montreal is basically one of my favourite places right now,” shouted Green before launching into a 3 song pseudo-encore (they never needed to leave the stage, the crowd was already clamouring for more before the show was even close to being finished,) and it was clear why: Montreal loves him back tenfold. And while the show could use a bit of fine tuning, Bonobo sure knows how to put on a performance that seemed to please the 2000+ people in attendance.
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