Bristol Trinity is a funny old venue; decomissioned church in an ‘edgy’ part of town, disappointingly low ceilinged given its original structure but none the less a pleasingly ‘intimate’ venue as Messrs Bon Iver mentioned at last nights sublime show (they played the Shepherds Bush Empire the previous night).
Just prior to their set Justin Vernon sidled his way through the sell-out crown apparently un-noticed by everyone as they stared at the stage wanting the set-up to be over. The dishevilled Vernon doesn’t give off the air of a ‘star’, more like a local wandering around a gig. How does it feel to be overlooked one minute and then greeted with an uproareous welcome as soon as you set foot on stage?
I must admit to being nervous that Vernon and his excellent companions Mike Noyce and Sean Carey on guitar and drums would struggle to reproduce the fragile beauty of the album – but if anything they surpassed it with an even greater distinction between the quiet, faltering passages and the, comparatively, more straight ahead sections. The crowd was thankfully suitably reverential and hushed for the affecting quiet, acoustic sections but vociforously appreciative in all the right places.
The heartfelt, emotive nature of the songs came over in spades and the whole show was simultaneously emotional, uplifting, joyful and heartbreaking. The new song, Bloodbank, went down especially well as did the final encore when all of Bower Birds ( the support) and the Bon Iver chaps gathered around a single (rather small ) mic and sang a beautiful song (by a songstress whose name I didn’t catch) with just Vernons acoustic gutar for company
Much as with the Band of Horses gig, the band really did seem to have a good time and appreciate the genuine warmth and affection from the crowd. It was a delight to see the band in such cosy surroundings and to have them perform such complete music so well. I wonder if we will really ever see them i such a small venue again?
Photo Courtesy Bon Iver Blog