By Daniel Paiz
Bonobo’s Fragments Tour immerses Denver in sounds, and it was a totally unexpected performance in terms of how it enveloped this listener. For starters, some tours prioritize playing mainly the new stuff from the newest album (Fragments, which arrived January 2022). Shadows, Otomo, Elysian and Counterpart all seemed to make the setlist; there might have been a few other album cuts that I’m blanking on. What’s impressive in tonight’s (March 17th, 2022) experience was how opposite of a fragmented set it was from Bonobo and his supporting cast of five musicians and two singers.
And then to really make it a trip, the fragmented theme of songs from other albums placed into the set were so cohesive!
Opening the night up…
Jordan Rakei was tonight’s opener for the Fragments tour, and he did an amicable job. Full disclosure, I had never heard of this artist before. His set was pretty mellow, having different moods that in hindsight prepared the crowd for the full version of that to come after his set. There weren’t any particular tracks that stood out, but that’s likely due to my unfamiliarity. After tonight’s set, I’ll likely be checking out his music to get a better sense of who he is.
Fragments cohesively deliver
Tonight was a lot of fun, because for the past dozen years or so I’ve revisited Bonobo’s music here and there. When checking out this music, there’s this feeling of growth over the course of individual tracks as well as albums. The subtle building feels so natural. The live version of this expanded upon this trait, as the band were so in sync with each other. Part of why it was such an intriguing set is due to how tracks I didn’t associate with other moods related still.
An example of this would be my all-time favorite Bonobo track, Kiara. Yes, it’s one of his most popular tracks to this day, but it’s a track that opened up my ears to shifting away from purely Hip-Hop sounds to Hip-Hop adjacent sounds. The version played tonight was mostly the same as the album version, with a subtle twist: the ending went up in energy as the group transitioned to the next track. That’s not how the album cut ends. It’s not a highly surprising move by the band as this portion of the set was about energy maintenance. It was just a fragmented difference that almost ironically did the opposite of its originator.
After ending their set and doing a brief three-song encore, the night ended before 11pm. For those of you who have been going to concerts for a while, that’s an added bonus. This night merged sounds ranging from mellow to energetic, without any noticeable wrinkles.
The newest Bonobo album is a decent listen, but one thing that bugs me after such a fun performance are reviews like this one. Seems kind of odd to get upset about an artist whose career has largely centered on making people happy and hasn’t tried to be the most innovative electronic artist out there. Electronic music in general is the epitome of taking sounds and repurposing them; artists like Girl Talk showed us the upside of recycling sounds. Despite the above review, Denver remains immersed from the sounds of Bonobo in the eclectic Mission Ballroom tonight.