The Arena stage was transformed into a scene from Phantom of the Opera last night when American folk band Bon Iver delivered their haunting performance.
Icicles of cotton wool hung from the stage ceiling and dozens of teardrop-shaped lights were perched on stands of different heights to look like flickering candles. Maybe Wisconsin’s Bon Iver discovered Denmark’s obsession with 'hygge' the last time they played here.
Though it seemed a bit strange to schedule a folk rock act in the 11pm timeslot, Bon Iver added some extended guitar solos to adapt their mellow music to the festival setting. And their apparent popularity – gauging by the massive crowd they attracted – warranted the decision to schedule them so late.
The revellers showed their appreciation by waving their lighters around several times during the show. “Wow, the lighter thing has never happened before. Thank you!” front man Justin Vernon said.
‘Skinny Love’ evoked a similarly enthused response, with the audience singing loudly along to the chorus. ‘Blood Bank’ followed soon after and the stage was appropriately bathed in red lighting, creating an eerie gothic feel as the hanging cobwebs glowed crimson. Vernon brought some beautiful light and shade to this tune, utilising his signature falsetto and dropping to his knees to play guitar.
Bringing it down a notch, Vernon swapped his electric guitar for an acoustic one to play ‘Flume’. The music created a shivery feeling – in this reviewer at least – and probably in those couples spotted wrestling tongues with one another.
One festivalgoer, Anil, said he went to see Bon Iver for the feeling their music created – highlighting the ease with which he could pick-up women when they were in the Bon Iver mood.
The encore featured ‘For Emma’ before Bon Iver introduced their last song of the night. Vernon said, “We have to finish this right,” and asked the crowd to sing along with him. They sang “what might have been lost” over and over during ‘The Wolves (Act I and II)’ also from Bon Iver’s 2008 album, For Emma, Forever Ago. He instructed them to start quietly and get louder and louder before screaming at the end. He held his notes for an impossibly long time and with such vocal clarity, that it was a pure pleasure to listen to. The intensity built up to a screaming crescendo, and blinding white strobe lights flashed into the audience, perhaps lighting up, for the first time, the faces of the strangers some were kissing.