Bon Iver delivered a powerful set at The Mann (photos, review, setlist)

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It’s a safe bet that nobody who saw Bon Iver‘s set at The Mann Center for the performing arts last night will again describe the Wisconsin-based new-folk collective as “mellow.” Under the guidance of frontman and songwriter Justin Vernon, the band worked its way through a 16-song, 90-minute set that hit tremendous heights and explored haunting valleys, beginning with the stark solo opener “The Woods.” Originally found on Bon Iver’s 2009 EP Blood Bank, this song’s mystical ebb and flow of auto-tune vocal passages reached broader ears in 2010 when Kanye West interpolated it into the song “Lost in the World” on his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With Vernon a solitary figure onstage among dim lights, his voice wandered in an architecture of loops and layers reminiscent of Laurie Anderson and Imogen Heap. A beat, a breath, and then the stage erupted into a thundering full-band performance of “Perth” from last year’s Bon Iver, Bon Iver. The set followed a similar pattern: in a vigorous take on “Flume” from 2008′s For Emma, Forever Ago, the nine-piece band created a rich progressive swell of sound from behind rows of beacon lights and under ragged backlit tapestries (the stage set alone was captivating), then later brought the pace down for a stark solo-acoustic rendition of that album’s popular number “Skinny Love.” Guiding the rise-and-fall were curious interludes; Michael Noyce played a jagged, John Cale-style violin solo to transition between “Hinnom, TX” and “Wash,” later saxophonist Colin Stetson answered his bandmate with mix of rhythmic scales and intense staccato bleats. While these elements took the set to its experimental fringes, it reached the other end of the spectrum as well, with a very poppy rendition of “Beth / Rest” closing out the main set, and a jaunty “For Emma” ending the show. But that wasn’t before Vernon entreated the crowd to sing (and scream) along to the epic, post-rock swell of “The Wolves (Act I and II),” while he thrashed away at his guitar, jolted around the stage, fell to the floor, played on his back, bolted upright and generally fought back against any threat of being pigeonholed as a low-key singer-songwriter. Check out a photo recap in the gallery above, and read the setlist below.

1. Woods
2. Perth
3. Minnesota, WI
4. Towers
5. Flume
6. Hinnom, TX
7. Wash
8. Holocene
9. Blood Bank
10. Skinny Love
11. Creature Fear
12. Calgary
13. Beth/Rest

Encore:
15. The Wolves (Act I and II)
16. For Emma

  • Iconmac

    Violin solo = Rob Moose not Michael Noyce