Haven KBH Festival 2017
The ever elusive Bon Iver makes a rare European appearance for the debut Haven Festival mesmerising everyone in the process
When Chance The Rapper cancelled on Haven earlier this year I was more than surprised to find out the just as elusive Bon Iver was his replacement, being such good friends with the Dessner brothers from The National, it came as little shock that justin would do his pals a favour and play the first edition of their Haven Festival (he in the end did more than just that with multiple appearances and a debut of his new project also at the festival).
It has to be said ’22, A Million’ is one of my all-time favourite albums and Bon Iver’s (led by Justin Vernon’s) heavenly vocals managed to bring the short yet fantastic album to live at Haven Festival, he was also kind enough to throw in a few old favourites as well. It only took the first note of “22 Over Soon” for me to have chills, I’ve seen countless videos of Bon Iver’s performances this year, ranging from NPR to his Coachella set but nothing could really prepare me for just how special his live performances are. this is especially true with the latest album, you listen over and over through your headphones at home noticing different complexities each time, each time wondering how on earth this could even be translated to a live setting.
The complexities are what makes the live show so exciting, anything could truly go wrong at any moment, it’s so fluid, it’s wonderful to see all the individual pieces come together, no more is this present than early on in 33 “God”, easily one of the best songs of last year and a true album highlight, the track just grows and grows throughout it’s length, starting off with a beautiful piano melody and scattered samples, Justin steps in with that trademark falsetto and cryptic lyrics, the track is really the first time in the set we see everyone really playing at once together, one of my favourite live moments this year.
I suppose the most surprising fact is that Justin recreates every aspect of the track live, from each instrument to each sample and every loop, at points in the set when Justin’s there with his headphones wrapped around his ears he looks more like a futuristic conductor more than anything. Bon iver could be perhaps consider more of a complex modern orchestra nowadays with Justin at his helm, it’s crazy to think how the band has grown since Justin made an acoustic record in a cabin.
Other stand outs of the set were the Stoner county anthem (as Justin called it) ’29 Strattford Apts” which went down a treat, as did following track “666”, both fantastic points on the album which somehow manage to expand and grow so much more live, this is definitely a record that has to be experienced, if you can get to a show then you should make it a priority, this is truly for anyone that can appreciate well made and good music.
‘8 (Circle)’ brought perhaps one of the most joyous moments of the evening, the song has many elements but it’s centrepiece has to be midway during the song where all the vocals and other instruments are stripped away completely and a joyous saxophone solo is given free reign, it’s in this moment that Justin crouches to the floor, his hand dancing around the air like a conductor, the saxophones are booming, piercing the air, the crowd let out a massive cheer and as Justin begins to sing once more he lets out an audible “whoop!” it’s spontaneous and it’s a rare but more than earned moment of self congratulation.
After finishing playing all of his latest album Bon Iver threw in a few old favourites from his self titled second record, ‘Perth’ with it’s iconic strings are mesmerising and had the whole crowd transfixed, it’s crescendo crashed through the night sky, just one more beautiful moment in a magical night, ‘Minnesota, WI’ is kept timid and stripped back in a lovely rendition but the true highlight has to be when he plays in my opinion his most beautiful and moving song ‘Holocene’
I could write forever about the feelings and pure emotion this song brings out in me and others, maybe it’s the relatable lyrics, maybe it’s that guitar melody that just seems to pick at your heartstrings but whatever it is, it’s iconic, no footage was allowed during the show but at a recent festival the track was filmed, check it out below, look out for the man who like many of the audience last night was brought to tears.
The set ends ferociously with Justin shredding away on Creature Fear in an epic climax which is almost the antithesis of the past hour, it’s always been loud and strong on the studio track but somehow it’s extended, a real rock star style moment from Justin as he channels slash as he falls to his knees ending the set with a real bang. Their can only be one word that really sums up the set and that has to be magical, it’s without a doubt one of the best live shows I have witnessed and I can’t wait to see him again later this year, without a doubt you should too.
22 (Over Soon)
715 - Creeks
29 #Strafford APTS
21 Moon Water