Bonobo at Manchester Cathedral was nothing short of an absolutely stunning show. The Manchester Cathedral was an extremely interesting choice of venue but it was the perfect place for the Manchester International Festival to showcase the electronic sensation that is Bonobo. The combination of music and light made this a truly unique and unforgettable show, especially inside a venue as special and different as this one.

Natural light streams in through the windows as support act Sandunes begins her performance. The cathedral is already buzzing with excitement, even with over an hour until the headline performance is scheduled to begin. She performs tracks, which feature on her album Downstream released last year, for nearly an hour and the (already sizeable) crowd can barely hold back their applause and appreciation. Although she is alone on stage surrounded by equipment, she successfully manages to charm the audience with her soothing and calming music. The beginning of her performance marks the point when the cathedral is filled with ethereal, electronic sounds which are to be continued later on by Bonobo.

After a short interval, it is finally time for Bonobo to take to the stage for his headline slot. In short, his performance is completely mesmerising. Performing tracks from his various albums, including Migration (released earlier this year) and Black Sands, he entertains the audience at the Manchester Cathedral for well over an hour and a half. Some notable songs that he plays are Cirrus, Kerala and No Reason. As well as Simon Green (Bonobo), his full band have also joined him for this concert. With vocalist Szjerdene Mulcare also joining him onstage, he’s able to perform tracks that captivate and almost totally hypnotise  the audience. One of the things that differentiates this gig from the traditional band setup is that Bonobo and the other instrumentalists onstage remain almost anonymous. Only their silhouettes and the odd interjection from Bonobo himself reveal their identity. This gig is completely about the music and Bonobo is able to hide behind that without destroying the performance aspect. The lights that accompany the sound heavily contribute to the atmosphere and compliment the music perfectly.

After his encore has finished, the room seems a little bit emptier without Bonobo’s electrifying presence. The Manchester Cathedral has been completely transformed during the evening to some sort of club or dance hall rather than a place of worship. This performance was unique and it was a magnificent contribution to the Manchester International Festival.

(homepage photo credit: Dan Medhurst)

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Sophie Nebesniak

Hello! I am Sophie! Previously Head of Music at Fuse FM, I review gigs and occasionally talk rubbish on the radio. Guy Garvey and Alex Turner are my idols. I have no idea what I am doing most of the time but I once met three members of The 1975 outside Manchester Academy at one in the morning so that’s okay I guess.