When Bonobo returned to Melbourne his performance was unforgettable

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When Bonobo returned to Melbourne his performance was unforgettable


The venue should have been the first giveaway that this show was more than just a DJ set. From the entrance, the refurbished Forum stretched down to the dancefloor, with its starry blue ceiling welcoming a stage brimming with musicians. Behind them a lay a backdrop of rolling landscapes that seemed to reach even further beyond the confines of the room.  This was Bonobo, AKA Simon Green’s, first Melbourne performance since 2015 and it was going to be large.

Fellow Ninja Tune artist, Romare, gave ample warning of what was to come as he showcased songs from his latest release Love Songs: Part Two while the bass shook the floor beneath the eagerly awaiting crowd. However, nothing could compare to the full sounds of Bonobo’s Migration as he and ten other musicians arrived onstage.

Accompanied by an array of instruments including guitar, keys, saxophone, clarinet, flute, a full drum kit, a brass section and a string quartet, Bonobo performed songs from his recent album Migration and his previous releases The North Borders and Black Sands. He fulfilled the wishlists of old and new fans with tracks like Kong, Cirrus and Bambro Koyo Ganda. Highlights included a synth breakdown during Outlier and a string quartet intro to Kiara. And as if sharing the stage with all those musicians wasn’t enough, Green moved even further into the background as Szjerdene Mulcare stepped into the spotlight to sing vocals for Break Apart and No Reason.

The visuals behind the band added even more to the performance. Some were rocky landscapes stemming from the theme of nature from Green’s latest release. Others looked like topographical maps, fitting in their structural approach to something natural, while onstage the reverse was evident as the band brought a human element to music that was previously more mathematical.

The set rounded off with a crowd pleasing Kerala including a solo from drummer Jack Baker who’d been an absolute monster behind the kit for the entire set.  Green closed the night with old favourites, Transits and Know You.

The full band gave Bonobo’s songs a new energy, making for a live show that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Highlight: The string quartet, an accompaniment rarely added to a live electronic performance.
Lowlight: The couple next to me grinding in my personal space.
Crowd Favourite: Kerala.