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Bonobo – The Picture House, Edinburgh, 23rd May 2013

A sold out crowd gathered to watch Bonobo, aka Simon Green bring The North Borders Tour to Scotland. The Thursday night billing appeared to be close enough to the weekend for fans to let go and the pre-show playlist tracks were beat orientated enough to assist.

Warm-up act The 14th slotted in nicely, making use of a two-piece string section, Jack on cello and Roxy playing violin who also joined as part of Bonobo’s string section afterwards. The London based two-piece consists of the vocal talents of Tracey Duodu and electronic production/ vocals of Tom Barber with their sound sitting somewhere near The XX meets old school UK Garage. The live strings and upbeat tracks went down well with the crowd.

The 14th (image courtesy of Piotr Nitecki)

As the venue quickly found the last of the crowd squeezing their way into the remaining pockets, Bonobo opened with a blistering version of Cirrus which I would have expected to have been reserved for the encore. Anyone who’d just arrived was left with no choice but to be carried away with the crowd frenzy. Don’t Wait followed bringing the hyped and already sweating crowd marginally back down.


Szjerdene arrived on stage to provide the vocals to Towers, the first of several tracks on which she took over vocal duties including the Erykah Badu guested track Heaven For The Sinner. Although a very different voice from Badu she gave a good rendition and given the lengths Green goes to ensure a more organic live show, much preferred to triggering some vocal samples. Onstage at times there were at least ten different musicians including live drums, a string section, guitar, synths and a three-piece wood/brass section and the sound they produced together was astounding. I’ve said it before, but having seen solo producers perform live with nothing more than a laptop, this is by far a much better experience.

The whole thing was at it’s peak when the string section kicked off the intro to Prelude from previous album Black Sands before being joined by the rest for Kiara. El Toro from the same album broke off into a fairly spectacular and unexpected drum solo for a good couple of minutes before it mutated and became something I’d never seen quite like this: Drum’n’Sax. The saxophone player, with his mic through some effect pedals, was looping bass noises akin to dub-step and soloing whilst the drummer thrashed out patterns you’d expect to hear from a machine in unison taking the section somewhere completely different. Almost unnoticed the rest of the band reappeared and finished El Toro as if the last five or six minutes had never happened – absolutely mind blowing!

In total, the set clocked in at around two hours with tracks from both North Borders and Dark Sands, and without once overstaying it’s welcome either. Simon Green’s Bonobo (and the musicians he tours with) are testament to what can be achieved live with “electronic music” regardless of how you put together your albums in the first place.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.