Justin Vernon’s third Bon Iver album is a weird and wonderful thing
Music : Corn Exchange, Cambridge, Fri, Sept 24
The hills are alive with the sound of The Music - back brighter and bolder than ever before…
But The Music are not impertinent fellows. In fact, they’re lovely. Clambering onto the tourbus after the gig, singer Robert Harvey patiently struggles through a mob of autograph hunters (and hair) to shake hands with NME.
“Did you have a nice time?” he asks in a timid voice tinged with genuine interest. Earlier, backstage, Adam Nutter had paused from building his boat-sized spliff to ask, “Do you think the second album is as good at the first?”, genuinely concerned that The Music have done The Right Thing.
Of course they have. Second album ‘Welcome To The North’ is an absolute belter, and tonight is the first time The Music are airing their new songs to the masses.
Not that they need worry. Within seconds of opener ‘The Dance’, people are taking the hint and dancing – actually dancing – hands in the air, T-shirts off, like a posh rave circa 1995. Posh, because Cambridge Corn Exchange looks less like a gig venue than a public school dining hall. It makes you think less “Who’s on?” and more “What’s for dinner?” Only the giant fairy-lights draped over the back of the stage hint at something more special.
Plunging into ‘Welcome To The North’’s title track, the baggiest and grooviest Music song to date, Robert waves a balloon (or possibly inflated condom) over his head. “You know the numbers”, he sings and – yes – you really feel like you must know these numbers, because he says so. The infectious crunch of single ‘Freedom Fighters’ follows, bookended with a joyous return to oldies ‘Human’ and ‘Turn Out The Light’, both still sounding boxfresh.
Album closer ‘Open Your Mind’ is the biggest surprise live – a far more gentle and introspective Music than we’ve heard before. Robert bows his head, Adam strums simple chords, even Stuart and Phil turn it down a notch.
In true Roses fashion, they still don’t do encores, but with a finale as strong as ‘Bleed From Within’, nobody’s asking for their money back. ‘Bleed…’ defines everything that’s great about The Music: from its sitar-style intro, through the chunky, throbbing verse and a chorus so good that it deserves to be on constant rotation in heaven.
The Music? They could be called The Dog’s Bollocks and no-one would think them big-headed.
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