Bonobo – Brighton Centre – 21st November 2017

Bonobo – Brighton Centre
Photo by Paul Hill

Former Brighton resident Bonobo’s rise has been unstoppable, and Simon Green, the man behind it all, is now one of the biggest electronic artists in the world. As a DJ and with the Bonobo live band, he’s now played to millions of people across the world in shows and festivals, and each album has been bigger than the last, with 2017’s Migration making the top ten. For the final night of his world tour he returned to his roots to play a mesmerising show of carefully crafted beats and an audio-visual spectacular to what was a sold out audience.

Arriving on stage just after 9pm, a full band version of Bonobo started the set slowly and built it up into a magnificent cathartic showing. The live instrumentation offers an organic vigour not found in his solo shows, with the gig full of subtle pleasures in which the multitude of instrumentation blended together seamlessly.

Band members faded in and out of focus, with Green remaining the sole, bass/synth playing constant throughout. He was carefully modest and didn’t make the gig at all about him, apart from the odd occasion when he stepped forward to talk to the audience.

With each of his six releases he’s enhanced and expanded his sound and the new album marked a high point. Opening with ‘Migration’ from his most recent record, the atmospheric setting was sustained with the silhouetted figures on stage making it more of an aesthetic and not just a sonic spectacle. Material from Migration formed over half the set list, with the main set list closing out with ‘Kerala’. However, the likes of ‘Kong’, ‘Kiara’ and ‘We Could Forever’ were the biggest crowd-pleasing ‘bangers’ and injected even more energy into the inebriated Tuesday night crowd before ‘Know You’ closed proceedings in entrancing fashion.

Bonobo’s seminal home town show was beautifully hypnotic and a perfect visual and sonic representation of his music, with the full orchestral set-up putting him in a unique league of his own and setting him apart from his peers. Two decades after his first record, this night proved he’s still as relevant as ever. It might be background or soundtrack music in day-to-day life but, when put on a stage, it takes on a world of it own.

Paul Hill