Remember the two types of concerts mentioned in my review of Fitz & The Tantrums’ show? Well I knew going into Bon Iver’s Radio City Music Hall show that it was going to be fantastic, and I was not disappointed. Last night was one of the most memorable musical experiences of my life. Every sound was magical. Justin Vernon was the people’s awkward hero. “Uh… I’d like to, uh, thank you guys for coming. It really… means a lot.” And the music they made was beautiful (just to get a sense of how amazing Bon Iver as a band is, my good friends went to see them the night before YGM went and sent me their setlist; YGM saw a different setlist… That’s the mark of true musicianship). At one point, the band began an explosive on-stage jam, putting any Phish bootleg I’ve ever heard to shame. It’s a huge testament to Justin’s musical prowess that he followed that jam up with a solo performance of “Re: Stacks,” and managed to make his own voice, an electric guitar, and a single spotlight just as explosive. I have to say, though, that the highlight of the night was the encore. Justin asked the audience to sing the phrase “What might have been lost” at the end of the song he was about to play. He told us to make sure we “start softly, then gradually get louder until we’re all f***ing shouting it” before launching into a blissful rendition of “The Wolves (Act I & II).” When it came time for the audience to join in, they were happy to. The song garnered a standing ovation before it had even ended, and when I heard the people on all sides of me yelling Justin’s words with the band, I realized what it meant to truly lose yourself in the music.
Going into this show I expected exactly what Bon Iver at Radio City Music Hall sounded like; a night of amazing music coming from a lone Justin Vernon and his guitar. What I received, however, was the best rock n’ roll show of my life. Justin Vernon turned his beautiful, calming, melodic music into a loud, powerful, and extravagant live performance.You know a band is amazing when the live versions of their songs are completely different, and a thousand times better, than the album versions; Justin Vernon gave us exactly that last night. The ten-piece live group stood in front of Radio City Music Hall on a stage set that looked like mountains. With ten-minute long dual-drum solos and epic guitar solos that brought me back to seeing classic rock shows with my parents as a kid, Bon Iver presented to me what was probably the greatest concert I’ve seen. I have to agree with Jason that the highlight of the night was “The Wolves (Act I & II)”. Seeing Bon Iver get all of Radio City standing and singing in unison was a perfect way to end the night. I would do anything to re-live this night; it was the best musical experience of my life. I remember turning to a speechless Jason in the middle of the performance and saying “This is magical”; that was the only word in my vocabulary at the time that could adequately describe it.
Check out some footage from the performance below (taken from YouTube).
Blood Bank (w/ Extended Jam)
*The Wolves (Act I & II)*
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