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- Bon Iver »
Opening tonight's proceedings is Portland’s Anais Mitchell with her pretty yet dust and very American sort of folk. For all its simplicity, and perhaps normalcy, beautiful idiosyncrasies seep through. Yet, for all her daintiness and sweet melodies and finger-plucks, there’s a grit behind her song-writing that lifts it out of the mundane in faint ways that came over almost without noticing them. A sweet start.
The Sage and its shiny, slick-curved posterior is a long way from the Wisconsin cabin in which Bon Iver’s** pastoral folk pop first took shape. For those what do not know, Justin Vernon and pals lifted their moniker an episode of Northern Exposure and it’s fair to say their ballads, as heart on flannel sleeve as they are, are of a thoroughly bearded North Western ilk. Whichever way you look at it, there is something supremely humbling and geography transcending, about four regular seeming blokes pouring their all into songs that tonight, within The Sage’s pristine walls, somehow come out clearer and more heart-wrenching as any moment on For Emma, Forever Ago.
Three songs in they got the audience to provide some soft backing vocals and it seemed all attendees packing this three-tiered venue were more than happy to oblige. Bon Iver’s austerity comes off thoroughly warm like the inside of a frosted over bedroom window, those unique high vocal harmonies drift outing out, free of hackney. The inherent sadness and emotion that these songs are built up from seemed particularly warming tonight, with the terrific acoustics of The Sage giving them massive room to breathe. At times, it was surprising how big and rocking the songs got in contrast to the softer tones of the album. Soul is something that comes through regardless; the quiet and unplugged cover ‘Love Is For Fools’ had easily as much resonance (if not more) than a more drum heavy number like ‘Team’, because ultimately, for all the loneliness at the heart of For Emma, Forever Ago_, Bon Iver’s live set proved that it’s the hope and gritty sense of joy that pushes their music onwards. And seeing these four totally humble bros expressing themselves so deftly and so free of pretension was an immense sight for sure.
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