Words: Euan Tait
Bear’s Den launched their Autumn European tour in one of the most beautiful and acoustically pleasing of Edinburgh’s music venues. It was simply wonderful to witness them engage with The Queen’s Hall – in all its former Georgian church glory – and the sold out crowd for whom it became home for the evening.
On support act duties was Lisa Mitchell, the singer-songwriter is sure to thrive on touring with a band like Bear’s Den – their lyrical attention to detail is paramount. Her delicate vocals were captivating and incited further investigation.
“Brother do you believe in the afterlife?”
The prophetically posed question signalled the start of the trio’s set and of ‘Elysium’. Basking at once in the rousing chorus of the set-opener, the sold out Queen’s Hall realised its acoustic potential. The trio formed in London and cite Where the Wild Things Are as inspiration for their name – not to be confused with Glasgow’s Bearsden by us Scots. The crowd was whisked through their folk-infused musical offerings – many from their 2014 debut LP Islands. The joyous ‘Think of England’ included a clapping tutorial. The result of which was absolutely glorious when accompanied by horns. The band’s three members – Andrew Davie, Joey Haynes and Kev Jones – were joined onstage by three other musicians at various points, resulting in pure sonic pleasure. It is worth noting that Jones even played drums AND bass AT THE SAME TIME. Kudos.
Our first acapella treat of the night came in the form of ‘Sophie’. The tender performance of the track (featured on their 2013 Without/Within EP) stunned the audience into perfect silence. Bear’s Den also showcased some new tracks, explaining their slightly nervous disposition as they look ahead to their sophomore album. There was little doubt in the room of its prospective wonder. The reason for the two drumkits onstage became clear during ‘The Love We Stole’ and the vigorous, climactic tension of ‘When You Break’ seemed to be a highlight from where I was sitting.
It was so easy for the crowd to soak up the at-times-ethereal, stirring sounds that Bear’s Den produced with admirable subtlety. When paired with the heartfelt lyrics that Davie sang so beautifully, it is no wonder that the trio received a standing ovation at the end of the night. Fan favourite ‘Above the Clouds of Pompeii’ attracted rapturous applause before the night’s second delightful acapella display. ‘Bad Blood’ was performed in the middle of the crowd, with Davie still managing to deliver flawless vocal clarity. Understated. Beautiful. The euphoric encore of album-opener and would-be-anthem ‘Agape’ left the audience on a high. In fact, it would sound quite at home in an arena.
“I don’t want to know who I am without you”. Neither do we, Bear’s Den.
Bear’s Den debut album “Islands” is out now on Communion Records/Caroline International. Order on iTunes here: http://po.st/IslandsDownload