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Opera House, Blackpool
Playing to a crowd of out-of-towners, Justin Vernon’s stripped-back band mixes martial Aphex Twin electronics with their traditional melancholy
It’s a decade since Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, spent three months in isolation in a remote log cabin in Wisconsin and produced For Emma, Forever Ago, a debut of beautiful folky introspection. Two albums and collaborations with Kanye West and James Blake later, last year’s more experimental, Autotune-enhanced, numerology-obsessed 22, A Million took him to No 2 in the US and UK charts. However, Vernon has felt uncomfortable with aspects of stardom and, after anxiety and depression, has expressed a desire to perform for audiences that are unfamiliar with his work.
It isn’t working out. “Is anyone from Blackpool?” he asks this sleepy old seaside town, and gets the faintest chattering of cheers. Most of the audience have clearly travelled in, but it’s the only awry moment as the ornate old Opera House provides the perfect backdrop for a magical evening of his music.