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Bonobo - It had to be all or nothing; completely live or not at all


Feature: Jack Foley

BONOBO is a man on the move. Having enjoyed a successful 2003, in which he successfully made the switch from Tru-Thoughts to Ninja Tunes and released the acclaimed Dial M for Monkey album, the Brighton-based Dj immediately set his sights upon new challenges.

Not content with merely spinning those decks, Simon Green has resolved to take his music live, with a six-piece band, to bring fans his music in what he describes as a more honest way.

And anyone who caught him live at the Jazz Café, in Camden, in January, will know that he has successfully risen to his own challenge.

Surrounded by a cool little ensemble of hopelessly talented musicians, Green delivered a masterclass in chilled out grooves; the type of which evoke comparisons with the type of hip cool reserved for George Clooney’s heist team in Ocean’s Eleven.

Call them the Rat Pack of the chill-out world, if you will, but the set was delivered with a tremendous amount of style, and seemed perfectly suited to the trendy crowd of one of Camden’s premier night-spots.

Needless to say, Bonobo and co, buoyed by the reaction to early shows, are now set to take their show on the road, even travelling across the pond, to America and Canada, as part of their participation in Ninja’s retrospective collection of releases.

And the advice is, go see it, for this is classy stuff, indeed, which expertly taps into the feel-good vibe of the album, and which provides an excellent showcase for musical talent.

At Camden, we were treated to Ben Cook on saxophone, standing centre-stage, and delivering his notes with a supremely laid-back air of confidence, while Green orchestrated proceedings, while playing bass guitar.

Surrounding them were the likes of Simon Janes, on cello and guitar, Simon Little, on the all-important keys, Jack Baker, on drums (who effortlessly recaptured the essence and vitality of those all-important beats), and James Grape, providing the electronics, percussion, and, during one scintillating moment, vocals to boot.

Back-stage, meanwhile, was Ben Drew, providing the lush visuals, which seem tailor-suited to the music they accompany.

Green’s decision to ‘go live’, with instruments instead of vinyl, may sound fool-hardy to some, given the variety of instruments employed for each track on the albums, as well as the intricacies of the loops, but it appears to have paid off.

Camden loved it, and enthusiastically greeted every number with rapturous applause. Green, too, appears content with the success of the venture, thus far.

Speaking exclusively to IndieLondon, he commented afterwards: "I decided to do this live as it represents what I do in a more honest way than DJ’ing.

"The music is made by playing instruments and I’ve always thought it could be done live, but have been put off by the amount of work it would involve.

"It had to be all or nothing. Completely live or not at all.

"I’m very happy with the way it’s turning out, as it’s kind of taking things to the next level with this whole Bonobo thing."

Prior to that, however, are a couple more dates in the UK, before the trip across the Atlantic, the dates of which are as follows…

Feb 26 - Manchester 'The Beat Route, at Manchester Metropolitan Students Union, Bonobo DJ set

Feb 28 - Brighton Phonic Hoop, at The Enigma Bonobo, DJ Set

March 17 - Boston ZENtertainment at Paradise Rock Club, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Blockhead, Sixtoo (DJ sets).

March 18 - New York ZENtertainment at Irving Plaza, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, and Sixtoo (DJ sets).

March 19 - Montreal ZENtertainment at SAT, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, Sixtoo (DJ sets).

March 20 - Toronto ZENtertainment at Kool Haus, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, Sixtoo (DJ sets).

March 21 - Chicago ZENtertainment at Metro, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, Sixtoo (DJ sets)

March 23 - Vancouver ZENtertainment at Commodore Ballroom, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, Diplo (DJ sets)

March 24 - Seattle ZENtertainment at Showbox, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, Diplo (DJ sets)

March 25 - Portland, Oregon ZENtertainment at Crystal Ballroom, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, Diplo (DJ sets).

March 26 - San Francisco ZENtertainment at Mezzanine, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, Diplo (DJ sets).

March 27 - Los Angeles ZENtertainment at Henry Fonda Theatre, with Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, Diplo (DJ sets).

In other related Bonobo news, the video for Flutter, directed by Conkerco, has made it to the top three videos (chosen from 150 entrants) as the final nominees for the British Animation Music Video Award 2004.

The awards will be held at the Shaw Theatre, London, on March 19, and fans can watch it by accessing his website, via the right-hand link on this page.

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