There is something rather comforting about isolation. It yields energy and creativity directed to that sole individual and once captured produces results charged with emotion and originality. Bon Iver’s releases, For Emma, Forever Ago and the Blood Bank EP, set such high standards it felt almost impossible for Justin Vernon to surpass but within the first ethereal minute of playing “Lump Sum”, expectations became non-existent.
Before us was a man so honest and humble, he adorns the most casual of clothes and is backed by one very solid band. Together they are comfortable and are a sublime joy to watch. “For Emma” caught us by surprise following the mellow “Lump Sum” and was greeted with great elation. It was then Bon Iver went straight to business. Every subsequent track was delivered with such emotion and energy it gave folk music a whole new meaning. Even during the more modest songs like “Re: Stacks” and “Babys”, Vernon presented a heart so tender and vulnerable that empathy made your heart ache. Vernon’s falsetto was faultless but it made you identify the same pain when life dishes you grief, yet transformed into a thing of beauty. “Blood Bank” was one of many highlights, closing the set in the most electrifying way possible. With a set so full of emotion and little room for error, it was a night so sincere, beautiful and desolate.
The set went on as follows:
- Lump Sum
- For Emma, Forever Ago
- Creature Fear
- Beach Baby
- Skinny Love
- Re: Stacks
- Simple Man (Graham Nash cover)
- Blood Bank
- The Wolves (Act I and II)
Playing to a packed Speigeltent with faces including TV on the Radio and Tim Freedman, we never wanted it to end. The encore of “The Wolves (Act I and II)” became highly engaging with direct instructions for the crowd to layer the song midway and with Vernon’s guitar solo, it was an explosion of delight and power. With a standing ovation, Bon Iver exits for what could be the last few shows before he retreats again.
The very few photos are here.
Not since Joanna Newsom (exactly this time two years ago) have I had shivers sent down my spine and my hairs stand on end from start to finish. Bon Iver, you make me so warm and fuzzy I don’t know what to do anymore.