The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Bon Iver (live in Tripod, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Bon Iver played a short, but sublime set in Tripod. They took the record 'For Emma, Forever Ago', to another level, adding layers and new sounds to it, whilst retaining the beauty that has made it the great album it is.

The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10

Full Review:
Over the winter of 2006-7 Justin Vernon retreated to a remote cabin in Wisconsin. It was in this isolated sanctuary that he recorded nearly all of what was to become ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. The record is a quiet masterpiece and there was a massive air of anticipation before this gig.

This Sound Track gig was due to take place next door at Crawdaddy, but it was moved to Tripod at the last minute for a seated gig. Support came from James McMorrow and Get Well Soon. McMorrow is a local lad. His performance was decent, if a bit too influenced by Ray Lamontagne. Get Well Soon is a 7 piece with members from Germany and Ireland. With a horn section and a girl bashing cymbals they try to be quirky and original. Instead they are boring and repetitive.

Live, Bon Iver is a three piece. Justin Vernon is joined by Sean Carey on drums and his former music student, Mike Noyce, on baritone guitar. There had been an announcement before the gig to keep noise to a minimum due to the quiet nature of Bon Iver’s music. For the most part though, this request was needless. They are so much louder live. They use the extra guitar and drums to build beautiful walls of sound to elevate songs such as ‘Flume’ and ‘For Emma’

While the massive fantastic codas they played were great, the highlights of the gig were in the quieter moments. ‘Skinny Love’ is my favourite song off the album, and possibly my favourite song of the year so far. Live, the drums were louder and more urgent, making the song more forceful. At one stage I just closed my eyes, and let the music take me over, not allowing anything distract me from it. Wonderful. After a solo rendition of ‘Re: Stacks’, they ended on ‘For Emma’. It was perfect.

Apologising for the brevity of the show, Vernon admitted that they simply did not know any other songs. A shout from the crowd suggested that he should just play them again. After a thoughtful pause, he replied that it would probably be too weird. Perhaps it would have been “weird”, but I’m sure that no-one would have objected. Support act, James McMorrow, put it excellently when he said that the music of Bon Iver was “beauty for the sake of beauty… for the sake of art.”

Garret Cleland

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Nuggets from our archive

2000 - 'Rock Criticism: Getting it Right', written by Mark Godfrey. A thought provoking reflection on the art of rock criticism.