(Words and photos by Anthony Bauer)

Earlier this year Simon Green (aka Bonobo) released one of his finest albums to date and one of the years best albums, Migration (out now via Ninja Tune). After a pretty lengthy first leg to the tour, he’s back out on the road in support of the album yet again and the first stop up on this new leg was at one of New York City’s newest venues, Brooklyn Steel.

As soon as the opening notes to the first song in the set “Migration” kicked in, the band were already dialed in and didn’t slow down one bit during their sensational 19-song set. This leg of the tour is also stopping in to smaller venues, so some sacrifices unfortunately had to be made production wise – less video screens behind the band and less members touring with them. The section that was absent from the show was the small string section, which wasn’t too noticeable at first but, their lack of presence definitely was felt on a few songs later in the set.

One of the true standouts from this set was getting to see, and hear, more from their mesmerizing tour vocalist Szjerdene, who breathes such life into these songs and elevates them to another level in the live setting. Usually we see her on no more than three, or four songs in, but Szjerdene emerged from backstage for 6 songs: “Towers,” “First Fires,” and “Transits” off of 2013’s The North Borders as well as Migration standout tracks “Break Apart,” “Surface,” and “No Reason.”

It’s also worth noting that this also marked the first show I’ve seen from Bonobo and the live band that lacked any special guest appearances as compared to previous shows in NYC. At the Summerstage show back in 2014 we were treated to special guests Andreya Triana and Grey Reverend while at the Terminal 5 show this past April we were downright spoiled with special guests Nick Murphy, Innov Gnawa, and Grey Reverend.

Special guests or not, it’s also important to note just how remarkable his touring band is. I truly can’t speak highly enough about them no matter how many times I’ve seen them, every member brings something to the table in the live setting. With all the members though, the true secret weapon lies in the percussion department with their fantastic drummer Jack Baker. He’s been working with Bonobo since the early days (click here to see a live version of Noctury, off of 2003’s Dial ‘M’ for Monkey) and brings an energy to these songs that are unmatched. A perfect example of this was during “Kerala,” where we got to see Baker let loose on a drum solo that was out of this world – and perfectly melted back into the song after the solo.

It’s always a pleasure getting to see the live band translating these studio songs into a live performance with pure, raw organic energy to them. I truly can’t recommend seeing Bonobo live with the band, it’s something that needs to be experienced and heard first hand. If Bonobo is stopping in a city near you, run… don’t walk to see him as soon as you can. You won’t be sorry at all.

Find more photos and the setlist below:

Bonobo Setlist:

1. Migration
2. 7th Seven
3. Break Apart (feat. Szjerdene)
4. Towers (feat. Szjerdene)
5. Kiara > Kong
6. Surface (feat. Szjerdene)
7. First Fires (feat. Szjerdene)
8. Bambro Koyo Ganda
9. Cirrus
10. Outlier [segued directly into Flashlight]
11. Flashlight
12. We Could Forever
13. No Reason (feat. Szjerdene)
14. Sappphire
15. Ontario
16. Figures
17. Kerala


18. Transits (feat. Szjerdene)
19. Know You

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