Skip to main content

6th November 2018

Live Review: Bonobo at WHP

Since the beginnings of his career in a neo-hardcore band, a lot has changed for the multi-instrumentalist musician/producer Bonobo, writes Andrew Fowler
Live Review: Bonobo at WHP
Photo: Andrew Fowler

What’s for sure is that Simon Green (aka Bonobo) has developed into a star-studded figure of UK twilit house and electronic music, with shows at Glastonbury and Sidney Oprah House already under his belt.

Green has become a prominent feature across the European and American festival scene, playing an impressive 22 shows in just 27 days last year after the release of his most recent album Migration, which was coincidentally written whilst touring.

Simon Green’s most popular release so far, Migration debuted at No.1 on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart last January. It saw a distinct change in style for Green, perhaps sparked by a recent move to L.A. The beat-driven tracks are often delicately tied with features from the likes of Rhye and Nick Murphy.

Despite the popularity of the album it wasn’t well received by all, with some critics referring to some of the tracks as “groggy” and “disappointing”. In this regard, live performances for Green are anything but certain.

With dazzling support from the likes of Giles Peterson, George Fitzgerald and many other stellar DJs, Bonobo’s headline set ‘Outliers’ was something to behold.

Green decided to ditch the 12-piece band he often performs with, and graced the night alone behind the decks — something Green developed in his residency at Outpost, an edgy club known to many on the New York scene. He had a tough act to follow however, after Berlin-based DJ Palms Trax delivered a punchy set that seamlessly drifted between vintage house and esoteric disco tracks.

Bonobo played at the Mayfield Depot: a large, bare warehouse matching the austere approach of Green’s music that his fans were so eagerly anticipating. He entered the stage bathed in smoke, instantly filling the previously vacant room with both music and visuals.

His set was extensive and varied, ranging from low-fi, deep, base-driven house, to highs of ethereal disco-dance fusions, taking the crowd from gentle swaying to bounding on the dancefloor. A matching ostentatious light show matched the set performed by Green. It had a minimalist feel, sticking mostly to a few lasers creating geometric shapes around the stage and a gentle backlight, casting a silhouette from behind the decks.

However, this is not to suggest that the set was flawless. Despite being able to take his audience to dreamy, spiritual places with his trance-inducing stripped-back beats, there were moments over the two-hour set where the crowd were most firmly grounded in an old, somewhat dank warehouse just outside Manchester’s industrial city centre.

This may be down to Green’s fatigue after a year of constant touring, or simply the difficulty of finishing a night which had an early first entry of 4 pm. But it’s not to suggest the night was at any point dull, rather having peaks and troughs.

The return of the Hampshire-born DJ to native soil after a long stint in the US was a definite success. One attendee quoted saying he “felt like I’d been on a gap year” during the performance. Bonobo will now go onto more shows in the US and Australia, meaning many fans may have to wait until the summer festival circuits to see a performance like that again.


More Coverage

Blondes live and in conversation: “We want to do it our way”

The Mancunion sits down to chat with Blondes, Liverpool’s youthful indie upstarts, at their headline Manchester show

Lloyd Cole to play Manchester’s Albert Hall

Indie veteran Lloyd Cole is set to headline Manchester’s Albert Hall with a brand new, critically-acclaimed LP

STONE: “We’re not here for a laugh and a toot”

The Mancunion sits down with Liverpool’s STONE to talk about their new album, Manchester, and their rise to being one of the most promising prospects in the UK

Squid: “We’re not really too worried about everything making perfect sense”

Ahead of a European tour to support the release of their sophomore album O’Monolith, Anton Pearson of Squid sat down to chat all things music, literature, and the climate with The Mancunion