Bon Iver Gorge Amphitheatre, George WA May 27
Published May 30, 2012Though the press blurbs for Bon Iver tend to focus on the image of songwriter Justin Vernon escaping to a woodland cabin with a broken heart, a couple of mics and an old recorder, the live experience presented this evening was far more grandiose, fully realizing the sound of their 2011 self-titled album. Performing under torn sheets hanging ghostly from the rafters, upon which projections subtly morphed their disposition, their jagged shapes complemented by rolling rows of oddly bulbous lighting placed throughout the terraced bandstand, Vernon's forlorn compositions were shrouded in opera-like opulence. Yet the lushness provided by the picturesque setting and an updated big band --complete with a horn section, two drummers and various interchangeable musicians to suit -- did not diminish the level of intimacy in the air. Between vignettes of Vernon's sweet falsetto and guitar gliding betwixt swooning waves of overwhelming yet tasteful orchestration, he announced himself to be in awe of the scenic Gorge and the festival's consistently brilliant lineup, waxing philosophically about the human condition yet, with a slight hesitation in his delivery, genuinely in the moment, a state of mind to which he would take us all.