Published Dec 06, 2011Accompanied by a grand total of eight bandmates, Justin Vernon went all out for Bon Iver's Metropolis show, performing songs from Blood Bank, For Emma, Forever Ago, and this year's self-titled (and recently Grammy-nominated) album. The lineup featured a saxophonist, trumpet and trombone players, a violinist, keyboards and synths, as well as two drum sets, making for an imposing, ineffably impressive performance.
Even bare-bones acoustic ballad "Blood Bank" was executed in a colossal way, fleshed out with a collage of sounds, each making a strong impression. The instrumentation, not to mention Vernon's singing, was smooth, sophisticated and solid all throughout the set, which ran for over an hour and a half.
While this was a highly accomplished performance overall, Bon Iver really impressed with the encore. Vernon sat with an acoustic guitar, flanked by six of his band members, who all served as enthusiastic back-up singers for a riveting rendition of "Skinny Love." It was such a simply-conducted song compared to the rest of the set, yet perhaps was the most powerful moment of the night.
Another highlight immediately followed, as the band returned to their instruments to wrap up with "The Wolves (Act I and II)," leading the audience in a spirited sing-along of the concluding line, "what might have been lost (don't bother me)."
It may have been a cold, wet Monday night outside the Metropolis, but you would not have known it from the satisfied looks on the audience's faces as they filed out onto the street.