So I got to see Bon Iver at the National Stadium in Dublin the other night. The national stadium is a funny place. Its mainly used as a boxing ring and seems a throwback to the 1980s and the days before our Celtic tiger and economic boom. Now that we're heading back into a recession its seemed appropriate to be heading along here for a gig. The place itself is bare and a little bit grim but strangely likeable. The icing on the cake for me is that you can buy a cup of tea at the back of the venue.
I missed fleet Foxes, it was sold out, at one of the premier venues in Dublin, so I was delighted to see Bon Iver. Justin Vernon did ask if we were disappointed at there not being any boxing before, during or after. Naturally we all said yes.
I was surprised at Vernon's appearance. I expected someone malnourished, hairy and a little bit nerdy. He was hairy but was also well built and seemed fairly sure of himself. There was some rapport with the crowd but not a huge amount. Not like Richard Hawley who is more like a stand up comedian from Blackpool who sings a few songs on the side.
Musically it was pretty much what you expected. He played the wonderful songs from For Emma which didn't deviate much from that recording. These were interspersed by four new songs from an EP called Blood Bank which will be out in January and was actually on sale on lovely 12" vinyl at the gig. I bought it but haven't actually listened to it yet. In the concert teh songs seemed inferior to the tracks taken from his album but that coudl be just lack of familiarity. I'll review it soon. There was some harder rocking from the EP.
The unexpected highlight of the evening was a cover of 'Spirit' from teh magnificent Talk Talk. Talk Talk themselves refused to tour their last two albums as they claimed it would be impossible to recreate that music and ambience in a live atmosphere. Listening to their music and reading the credits, you'd be persuaded to agree. So Bon Iver's version, sung by the drummer, was inferior but was a delight simply to hear this sing in a live setting.
After the 'last song' Justin asked if we minded if they didn't actually head off the stage for a fake encore and so just stayed on and played their last two songs.
A very good gig but not approaching greatness. Bon Iver is still one of the albums of the year though.