Bonobo at The Brighton Centre: Review

Simon Green, better known by his stage name Bonobo, has been releasing music and touring the world for 22 years.

It would be easy to assume a stage veteran like Green would be happy to stick to a tried and tested formula when performing live in 2022.

He has a big enough presence and following to play arena venues - so there is no need to take risks at shows any more right? Play the hits, whack on a pretty visual show and dazzling light display. Everyone's a winner.

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However, when playing the Brighton Centre on Tuesday (May 3) as part of his world tour for his latest studio album Fragments.

The 46-year-old demonstrated he had no intentions of sticking to the standard recipe – presenting a fresh evolution of his live show.

The 46-year-old demonstrated he had no intentions of sticking to the standard recipe – presenting a fresh evolution of his live show.

Despite following a bank holiday weekend, there was a strong buzz within The Centre from the moment the doors opened on a chilly spring night on

the seafront.

Support act Jacques Greene’s set acted as an ideal palette cleanser for the audience, as his garage-influenced electronic music ascended in scale and sound, with each beat drop bringing in a greater number of stage lights and smoke machines from around the venue floor.

The band are then joined on stage by singer Nicole Miglis, whose gorgeous vocal on Surface blends smoothly with rolling visuals of the ocean.

At around 9:15pm, Simon Green and his six-man strong band walked on stage to a healthy sounding ovation, before dropping into the upbeat house

track Rosewood - off the latest Bonobo record.

It’s a fun opener, with its punchy beat supported by bursts of red light from the numerous thin strings of panels that rise out from the stage floor.

The crowd is instantly hooked, as Green begins to play bass on the drifty Counterpart.

The band are then joined on stage by singer Nicole Miglis, whose gorgeous vocal on Surface blends smoothly with rolling visuals of the ocean.

Miglis stays on stage for the next two tracks - Tides and Shadows. The original vocals were performed by Jamila Woods and Jordan Rakei respectively.

While Miglis is certainly a talented vocalist, it is a stretch to match both original performances, and this halts the show's momentum.

However, the crowd is gripped again when the popular Kiara flows through the speakers, its rousing string section a highlight of any Bonobo

performance.

The dance floor is now fully mobile for the uplifting Africana beats of Bambro Koya Ganda, before the night reaches its highest peak when Green and his team drop into Cirrus.

Performing a much bass heavier version of the 2013 classic - the venue feels more like a trendy Ibiza nightclub then just a run-of-the mill tour performance.

Unlike traditional dance acts performing live, Green has a microphone to speak to the crowd, which he uses on numerous occasions.

The dance music guru tells them that he has always loved playing Brighton, being a local to the city, and how it was great to be back playing in the UK for the first time since 2017, before starting up Outliner.

It may be a small detail, but it helps differ Green from his electronic counterparts and generates a concrete connection between him and the audience - meaning there is a party atmosphere for the samba sounding We Could Forever.

Simon and his band are riding the crest of a high-energy wave and bring the tempo down as Miglis returns to the stage for First Fires, From You and No Reason.

The same issues with the vocals reappear. But the visuals of shooting stars flying past green’s head is mesmerising and acts as a distraction from this disjointed trio of tunes.

Linked, Age of Phase and Otomo gently bring the tempo back, with bursts of green and red light not only shining from the stage, but from chandelier-style LEDS at the top of the room.

Dance acts are notorious for their light shows, but Bonobo’s seemed more artistic, impressive and sophisticated then any previously seen before.

The Encore of Break Apart, Stay The Same and Kerala is more ambient then heart-thumping, which is a risky move for a dance act.

But it fits the mood of the evening, Green and his band are now experienced, reflective musicians, and this was displayed throughout the Brighton performance.

Not only did they showcase this in the music played that night, but by the whole stage performance from start to finish.

Green is not afraid to keep moving forward and adapt, and this is why after 22 years, going to watch Bonobo stills feels as fresh and exciting as when he started out.

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