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Live: Bonobo - Albert Hall, Manchester


Having been dormant for decades, Manchester’s Albert Hall has now reopened and is in the midst of hosting a programme of events that has instantly elevated it to being a jewel in the crown of the city centre.

Perhaps the most enticing fixture though was the instant sellout that played host to Bonobo as part of his current North Borders tour.

Simon Green has earned a reputation for translating electronic music to the live stage with greater authenticity than anyone else has ever managed.

He takes to the Albert Hall following an atmospheric support set from Catching Flies and confirms that all the stops will be pulled out on this occasion, with a full-scale band that swells to 11 during more elaborate numbers.

Bonobo kicks off with The North Borders’ lead single ‘Cirrus’ and immediately gets the venue bouncing with a beat-heavy rendition perfect for a Friday night.

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There are few other artists who could marry a rave atmosphere with a soulful vibe as ably as this man and he is helped in no small part by the pitch-perfect vocals of Szjerdene

A four-piece orchestra seamlessly arrive and leave throughout the night, bringing a flawless mixture of electronica, jazz and trip-hop to life.

There’s a sense that being a cellist has never been as rock ‘n’ roll as when performing against a backdrop of encapsulating visuals and an excitable 1000-strong crowd.

Trademarks like ‘Kiara’ and ‘Kong’ are more accomplished than ever and the extra effort that has been applied in getting album guests such as Grey Reverend to join the party is massively appreciated by all.

In an age where chart-bothering bedroom DJs get by standing behind a laptop and drafting in the odd-chart topping vocalist, it is refreshing to witness a man who puts his all into even the most minor detail of his live show.

The value Bonobo’s touring musicians are given in their capacity to express themselves and sometimes take centre stage is great to witness. Despite his widespread admiration, Green is not in to egos and freely gives his band the space they need whenever required.

The audience is treated to an instrumental by the the producer’s drummer and saxophonist off the back of ‘El Toro’ and Szjerdene, accompanied by the full band, return for an encore that tears the roof off the Albert Hall in a way that would have seemed unimaginable ten years ago.

With further European tour dates (supported by Manchester-based contemporary Werkha), and surely a busy festival season to follow, it seems inevitable that this near perfect live show will only go from strength to strength in the coming months.

Patrick Davies