Bon Iver @ Hammersmith Apollo
A voice all kinds of arousing
To quote one Patsy Stone, "you can never have enough hats, gloves and shoes." And at a Bon Iver concert, the same goes for plaid shirts and corduroy trousers.
With his mellow and melodic folk musings, Justin Vernon's developed something of an army of moody, super-hot, lumberjack-esque disciples. They were out in force for his recent date at London's Hammersmith Apollo and made it rather difficult to concentrate on the music in question. Well, for about five seconds; Vernon's haunting tenor vocal stylings are in fact more arresting than they are on record and with stage presence such as his it is in fact impossible to concentrate on anything else.
As feminine as it is gruff, it's Vernon's beautiful voice that makes Bon Iver special - more so when paired with confessional yet understated lyrics about heartbreak. The fact is there's something inimitably attractive about a grudgingly sensitive straight man (like Ennis in Brokeback Mountain, not that he was exactly straight...). Throw an acoustic guitar into the mix and failing knees are an inevitability.
Surprisingly, though, the show - comprised mostly of songs from his blockbuster second album, a few from the first and a gloriously chipper cover of BjÃ¶rk's Who Is It - was not an understated affair. Firstly, Vernon's VERY sexy deep singing voice was a revelation in a live format. What pushed the sound to the next level was the very large team of musicians behind him, each alternating between two and in some cases three instruments.
Two drummers, bass saxophonists, a man compelled to bash his tambourine against his foot - ultimately, it was a textured and powerful departure from the albums' fragility. On occasion it got too loud and messy. Sometimes the rhythm got a bit lost, suggesting the team were perhaps not used to each other or as well rehearsed as they should've been. Then again that just seemed to add to the show's rustic charm.
And when it was on, it was on - an immensely powerful and moving show and such beautiful, meaningful music. Yes, the kind to move a man to tears. There were a few. *Googles Tom Hardy in the Kleenex advert, gets aroused*
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