I was going to try and get through this review without uttering the phrase 'fucking epic', but, evidently, I have already failed. Whether you want to call their performance at Wembley Arena shitting massive, dicking gigantic or, quite simply, bollocky huge, there is no denying that Bon Iver have merited their mantle as a genuine stadium rock act. However, unlike U2 who act like twats, Coldplay who dress like twats and Muse who now sound like weird funky conspiracy twats, Bon Iver have managed to become an act who can sell out 12,000 seat stadiums without becoming gimmicky or giving way to painful pomposity. In fact, frontman Justin Vernon still looks exactly like the kind of bloke who wanders into the forest, voluntarily isolates himself in a wood cabin for weeks and introspectively dwells on the loss of a loved one; balding bonce, scruffy beard and trousers that look like soggy tubes of cardboard (his words, not mine). It's true, Bon Iver look like a very normal bunch. Yet, despite their ordinary appearance, there is nothing unremarkable about their live performance to a packed out Wembley.

Delivering a set mainly constructed around their most recent self-titled album, Bon Iver made a concerted effort to deliver each track with as much gusto as possible without sacrificing the sensitive soul of the recorded versions. Of course, tracks such as opener 'Perth' and the pounding 'Blood Bank' don't need much altering to fill out the largest of venues, but how can tender tunes such as 'Hinnom, TX' and ‘Wash’ really translate in such a cavernous setting? Their answer to that particular question was to feed off the soulful, powerful vocal range of Justin Vernon and reduce 12,000 people to doting, reverential and eerie near-silence.


What was most incredible about the set was that, in between the most crowd-pleasing moments such as a splendidly sumptuous performance of 'Holocene' and the mass sing-along 'Skinny Love', there were parts which seemed almost ridiculous considering the setting. A looped saxophone solo from indie parper of choice Colin Stetson, aside from being quite thrilling, was positively hilarious once you took a look around. 'Beach Baby', a solemn song of adultery, was a surprise entry on the set-list and 'Re: Stacks' (with additional backing vocals from support The Staves) was beautiful, if not very un-stadium-like.

But they didn't put Bon in Wembley Arena on the back of a load of campfire acoustic sing-alongs. 'Beth/Rest' sounds like a hark back to music from the era of Topgun and the performance of the track was so (I'm going to have to say it again) fucking epic that it wouldn't have been out of place if Maverick himself had performed a spectacular flyover whilst giving the band a big old thumbs up. The songs are so brilliantly crafted that a group of musicians as talented as this lot have the ability to showcase them in their finest form, whether that is in the tiniest of pub backrooms or selling out stadiums up and down the country.

Rumour has it that Justin is close to calling it a day on Bon Iver, stating that the project has reached achievements beyond his wildest dreams and maybe the band should bow out at the very top of their game. With two Grammys and sell-out arena tours on the back of a couple of albums and an EP, it's hard to see how the band can better the successes of the last couple of years. If this is the end of Bon Iver, they are saying goodbye in the best possible way.