Bon Iver, Manchester Arena – 9th November 2012

It all started with a broken relationship and a broken band when Justin Vernon moved to Wisconsin to spend the winter months in his father’s cabin. Hence the name, Bon Iver which is derived from the French phrase ‘bon hiver’, meaning “have a good winter”.

From then, Bon Iver has released some of the most amazing and heart-wrenching songs that somewhat directs itself to a personal place in the heart of their listeners.

I was surprised how few people knew who Bon Iver were. I was going around bouncing off the ceilings in excitement about seeing the band and many asked me who they were! I was shocked as they are one of the greatest bands in the world.

Just the day before they performed a sell-out show at Wembley Arena. Rightfully it was, seeing them at Manchester was undoubtedly the most amazing gig I have been to so far. From the songs to the atmosphere to the sheer brilliance of it all.

Surprisingly though, the Manchester gig wasn’t sold out, maybe it just wasn’t the perfect place for an indie/folk band!

The stage was decorated with drapes of material hanging from the ceiling and that was it, I thought it was a bit tacky but as soon as the proper lights shone on stage, it seemed to magically turn the stage into a cave and I felt like I was transported into a completely different place. It’s fantastic what a little bit of light can do.

I never really enjoy the support acts at gigs because I’m a really impatient person. All I want is to see the person/band I paid for and enjoy that! I thoroughly enjoyed Bon Iver’s support act though. They were supported by The Staves, a cute folk/indie trio who’s voices matched each other’s perfectly. I had a fantastic tone and sounded amazing acapella. They mainly sung with one guitar and a ukulele but had many acapella moments which sounded beautiful in the huge arena. This was the second time they had supported Bon Iver, so of course they must have had a good impression the first time. I was glad to have come early enough to see them as I haven’t stopped listening to them since! Definitely worth a listen if you like Bon Iver!

Bang on time, out came Bon Iver at 9pm, slowly one by one the musicians came out and of course Justin Vernon was the last to come on, sporting a headband and a casual zip jumper. As expected, the whole band suited the atmosphere and the style, scruffy and bearded.

The anticipation rose as everyone awaited the first song, what else than their first song on their 2011 album, Perth! As soon as the soft guitar started I got goosebumps and a huge smile on my face. Everything came together perfectly, the lights, the mood, the music.

As the gig progressed, the smile stayed and goosebumps kept popping up now and again, the band were insane, they were all so in sync with each other. It’s fantastic to listen to, just watching all the musical puzzle pieces together was even more perfect.

They played mainly from their latest album and included the favourites from the first album, For Emma, Forever Ago with an encore of Skinny Love which had the whole arena singing and swaying along together.

My favourites included Holocene, Towers, Minnesota, WI and of course the encore brought back the goosebumps. Vernon played a special ‘new’ song called ‘Ninjas’ which got the audience in laughter, it was definitely my favourite song… I also loved how humble and thankful Vernon was throughout the gig; constantly thanking the audience for their support.

I was hoping that Justin Vernon would perform his beautiful cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me/ Nick of Time. I remember hearing it for the first time and it was on repeat for days. However, even though it wasn’t played, it was still amazing.

Well worth the 14 hour round trip to and from Falmouth.


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