Bonobo at the Warehouse Project Manchester

Store Street, the home of this year’s Warehouse Project is an odd, sometimes scary place. Situated in a disused car park underneath Piccadilly Station in Manchester city centre its crumbling arches and dripping ceilings wouldn’t make Jack the Ripper feel out of place. Yet it’s Manchester’s home for top DJs and electronic musicians including MK, Chase and Status, and many more. Tonight was the turn of ambient and downtempo artist Bonobo, which in the dark dungeon-like scenery of the Warehouse Project may be an odd fit, but he brings his style of ambient chilled electronic to brighten up this dingy corner of Manchester.

Bonobo first appeared in 1999 and since then has gained traction in the electronic music scene, particularly 2010’s ‘Black Sand’ and follow up ‘The North Borders’. This show is near the end of a two year mammoth tour which has seen him play across the world to over 2 million people.

His live shows have become an important part of his appeal, choosing not to simply play his music solo, instead bringing a live band to truly bring out his sounds. With flutes, violins, saxophones and a variety of other instruments, Bonobo’s live shows comes closer to watching an orchestra perform than a dance musician.

Appearing one by one for captivating opener ‘Cirrus’, each member of Bonobo’s band add a layer of sound building up a wondrous wall of sound in one of the best openers I’ve seen. The combination of live violinists for track ‘Kiara’ is a unique and brilliant experience and combines both electronic sounds and live orchestration, which many may argue are polar opposites.

Later on there are live vocals from Szjerede for Bonobo’s calmer moments such as ‘Towers’ and ‘Stay the Same’ which still entice the audience, despite the lack of beat. These proved to be some of the highlights of the set, which is testament for a venue known for its fast and loud dance music.

However it’s not all solemn and reflective, as tracks such as ‘Kong’ and ‘Ten Tigers’ get the packed out crowd moving. Other highlights include ‘Flashlight’ from the forthcoming EP, which shows a bright future for the musician, further enhancing his staple of atmospheric electronic music.

As the band leave the stage at the end of their set to loud cheers from the grateful, and very sweaty audience, it’s clear Bonobo’s live show is a journey of what can be achieved in modern music. From raving one minute, to reflecting emotionally the next, Bonobo’s shows are unique in showing the power and beauty of dance music. Never before has a sweaty disused car park been so beautiful.

Sean Redmond

Sean Redmond

Music writer, with a keen interest in rock, punk, hip hop, electronic, indie and most things in between.
Sean Redmond

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