Bonobo, HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Fri 22 Apr
Ninja Tune artist plays lush electronic set from his Black Sands album
As the only Scottish stop on his European tour promoting last year's album Black Sands (Ninja Tune), Bonobo’s (aka British DJ/musician Simon Green) Edinburgh show attracted a hyped-up capacity crowd. Support came from Scots Hidden Orchestra, whose fittingly instrumental deep, dark and lyrical music struck the dry ice-filled venue with beautiful intensity. Their set ended with a frighteningly emotive composition of heavy drums, bass and violin – generating the musical equivalent to a scene from a lucid horror movie.
When Bonobo appeared, he was silhouetted at decks, churning out a crowd-pleasing, feel-it-to-your-toes bassline. His music has appeared everywhere from car adverts and computer games to Gossip Girl, taking an almost Moby-like approach which defies clear definition; it's a genre mash-up of soulful, earthy grooves, jazz, guitar riffs, drum & bass, electronica and occasional hints of gritty indie. Bonobo’s handpicked ensemble of outstanding musicians were pulled on and off stage over the one and a half hour set; drums, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, flute, acoustic guitar and bass all creating texturised and distinctive musical landscapes. Vocalist Ruby Wood appeared intermittently from the third track in, her sultry lyrics unusually playing second string to the flawlessly synchronised band.
Overall highlights included epic drum and sax solos which stripped tracks right back to their core, before building to a melodic and ethereal ends. Affectionately commenting that it was his first time playing Scotland with his band, Green faithfully introduced each of them pre-encore, setting things up nicely for a hearty round of shouting to bring them back on stage. The crowd lapped up every minute of the last two tracks, an uplifting number dominated by playful flute, trombone, trumpet and guitar and older track, 'Between the Lines'. Bonobo is a rare artist, possessing the enviable ability to build music instrumentally into complex, euphoric soundscapes. Played live, his music comes into its own.