Change of weather. Bon Iver.

Bon Iver’s music makes me heart-achey, in the very best of ways. Last month at the Orpheum, I was expecting a stripped down acoustic rendering of those tender and soaring songs I love so much. I had a vague notion that Justin Vernon would be alone on stage, sitting on a stool with a guitar, a laptop and a crazy looking microphone – maybe something with a funnel over it, or gold chainmail, or a fluffy cotton mitten. I try not to read about shows ahead of time – I don’t want set lists or context. Wide-eyed and free of expectations works for me, and that balmy Tuesday night was no exception.

As I settled into my seat, I scanned the crowd – chockablock with bespectacled lumberjacks and their ladies. No surprises there. But the stage was set up for a band, and from the looks of it, a big one. I turned to my husband and clapped my hands. I might have even said wheee! There is nothing on this earth that I love more than being roughed up by a wall of sound – except for maybe a rockin’ male falsetto. I was definitely in the right place.

The room was practically thrumming with anticipation and frankly, unabashed fandom for the low-key and hugely talented Vernon. This wasn’t lost on him and he was almost sheepish as he took the stage in his cute Western shirt, flanked by an enormous nine-piece band. They launched into Perth and because I was seeing it with my own eyes, my ears opened to just how many instruments and voices go into Bon Iver’s textured, intricate, ethereal sound. Multiple percussionists, horns and guitars backed Vernon, sometimes singing, sometimes switching instruments mid-number, filling the songs out to their absolute richest. And his voice. That voice. Is sublime.

At times the band was rocking so hard that it begged for standing up and moving into the swell. In the next breath, Vernon would pull back and quiet would unfurl like a blanket. It was gorgeous. And like the best live shows, the feeling of having witnessed something special lingers well after the last encore and the screaming applause. I walked around for days, my thoughts straying to the show, a knot of warmth in my chest right in that spot where I felt the drums.

Complicated, variegated, moody, romantic and vulnerable, I can think of no better soundtrack for this time of year, when we turn our faces to the weakening sun and hold thoughts of winter lightly behind our backs like an old tennis ball. Give a listen to Calgary. Doesn’t it sound how right now feels?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

One Response to “Change of weather. Bon Iver.”

Leave a Reply