Bonobo @ 02 Victoria Warehouse review - a gig felt deep in the stomach ★★★

Despite the best efforts of some of the city’s wettest rain, which sought to dampen one and all before the strobe lighting and smoke machines kicked into action at the 02 Victoria Warehouse on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, Simon Green looked at home.

By Jack Marshall
Monday, 9th May 2022, 7:27 pm

The Brighton-born and Los Angeles-based DJ and producer is undoubtedly more accustomed to warmer and less grey surrounds, but if the man better known by his stage name of Bonobo felt even a pang of disappointment, his set belied a far keener sense of fun.

Playing to a well-and-truly packed-out venue which required sharp elbows to secure a place in the disparate streams of people keen to get to the bar, the toilet, the stage, or all at the same time, Bonobo was all smiles. He knew what the people wanted and he gave it to them.

Touring with his seventh studio album, which was released in January of this year under the name Fragments, the (relatively) veteran Bonobo was also accompanied by the fantastically talented Jamila Woods, the Chicago-born singer, songwriter, and poet. She was excellent.

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Bonobo @ 02 Victoria Warehouse Manchester

Her vocals were an immediate hit as the band members - a DJ Green may be, but his gigs are populated by live music as far as the ear can hear - kicked things off with Tides, the lines ‘we won’t be dry soon’ and ‘we cloud people, we live in grey’ feeling apt given the climate.

Hair slicked back and strumming an electric guitar behind his decks, Bonobo was happy to briefly take a backseat to proceedings before launching into a litany of hits, all boasting bass-amplified drops which rang around the cavernous warehouse and got feet moving.

Bambro Koyo Ganda went down particularly well, the drop emphatically rattling the concrete. But one can't help but feel the genre of music over which Bonobo is undoubtedly a master doesn’t lend itself to the live experience as effectively as others, harsh as that may be.

This is a minor gripe which should not detract from the fact that Bonobo and his entourage doubtlessly put on a serious show. The musical talent on offer is considerable, the vibe created in such a tight-knit theatre utterly compelling. It’s a show to be felt deep in the stomach.

Bonobo @ 02 Victoria Warehouse Manchester

Bonobo is currently touring. Go to https://bonobomusic.com/tour/