Bon iver

Compellingly personal arena experience: Bon Iver, at Ovo Hydro, reviewed

A reliable metric for measuring pop success is hard to find these days, as Michael Hann noted in these pages recently. Massaged figures for sales and streams are so opaque as to be almost meaningless. The charts are old news; social media reach wildly distorting. Bon Iver have won Grammys and released platinum-selling albums, but that was a decade ago. Such accolades feel oddly old–fashioned now. Perhaps the most assured barometer is the traditional one of bums on seats – by which gauge Bon Iver appear to be doing just fine. Yes, they are a band lacking any semblance of a song your postman could whistle. And yes, they are

When musical collaborations go right – and when they go horribly wrong

Big Red Machine release their second album later this month. It’s a fine name for ten tonnes of agricultural apparatus but perhaps not quite so persuasive for a pop group, particularly one with a considerably lower profile than most of its members. A collective formed by the National’s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Big Red Machine has corralled the likes of Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes), Sharon Van Etten and Taylor Swift into making a collaborative record called How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?. It sounds intriguing on paper, but the quality of musical collaborations is notoriously hard to gauge from the cast list. Unlike film, in