Following the release of their second studio album and the departure of Joey Haynes in 2016, Bear’s Den led by Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones, kicked off a number of UK dates in March, including a night at the o2 Apollo in Manchester.
Opening the show was East London based indie rock outfit Banfi, promoting their new single Rosedale House with distinctive vocals and catchy pop melodies that recall the likes of Everything Everything. The trio were the smallest band on the line up but occupied the space well with three part harmonies, clever instrumentation and an abundance of energy.
Next up was enigmatic electro soul musician Seramic, backed by an incredible live band. A mixture of blues guitar, gospel-inspired falsetto and an infectious stage presence turned heads and latest release Same Mistakes generated much applause from an appreciative audience.
The distinctive synth and guitar sounds of Red Earth and Pouring Rain began Bear’s Den set, with the band illuminated against a dark stage by perfectly synced and appropriately coloured blue and red lighting.
The set list struck an amiable balance between electric and acoustic, with drums, keys and bass on the likes of Greenwood’s Bethlehem being traded for brass and three-part harmonies on Her Tears and their newest track Berlin.
Although often described as folk rock, the music seems to encompass a much broader range of influences. Maybe it was just a familiar synth or vocal line but elements of ’80s pop were audible in parts and there was a murmured conversation during Emeralds likening them to Dire Straits.
“Sometimes I wish there was this strange ritual where bands go and wait in the corridor for a few minutes” Davie jokes as the band announces their last song, “But alas that’s just a daydream of mine.”
The most impressive part of their encore and perhaps of the whole performance, was undoubtedly their unusual tradition of playing a track completely un-amplified. The between song chatter dissolved into silence as they stepped away from their microphones with two acoustic guitars and a banjo to play Bad Blood, to a hushed audience. It’s not often you see bands utilising the natural acoustics of a 3,500 capacity venue and the result was truly breathtaking.
The latest full-length album from Bear’s Den ‘Red Earth & Pouring Rain’ is out now via Communion Records.