Live Review: Bear’s Den – Manchester

Bear’s Den

Photo: Popped Music

Photo: Popped Music

13th February 2015, Gorilla, Manchester

Some might say that Friday the 13th is not a good day. This time, however, I would most certainly like to beg to differ. Though it could have all been so different, luck was certainly on my side. At 7.20pm I found out that Bear’s Den were on at… 8.20. Panic. My journey is one hour, I had no fuel and I know how hard it can be to park around the venue.  I also wasn’t exactly 100% that I was on the list. But for this band I risked it…. and what a pay off. I walked in just as they’d began their first song. Talk about lucky.

In fact the only unlucky thing about the whole event was being stuck behind a tall guy his tall girlfriend their chatter and their total lack of participation in the gig (aside from watching) – why no clapping? On any other day this would have annoyed me beyond belief but due to my good luck and buoyant mood I let it slide. Besides, they had to listen to me sing every single word to every single song the entire way though. Though my singing, and that of others, didn’t go un-missed by the band. During Issac the band were so taken aback by the passion in the crowd’s singing that lead vocalist Andrew Davie temporarily forgot to sing his lines. Even going as far as to say after “I got distracted and started listening to you. Not very professional but it’s a testament to some of your voices”. What a bloody lovely man.

There is often a point during the set that a band really bonds with it’s crowd, especially a newish band, such as Bear’s Den are. This moment came when Andrew messed up his lines in Magdalene. He couldn’t quite get back on track and instead laughed and called the show to a halt. With a rather sheepish grin he announced he’d fluffed it and would have to start again “no pressure” he added as they launched back into it with a round of applause and cheers from the crowd. That wasn’t it though, the actual real moment was when he got through the previously fluffed line and the crowd erupted once again. That there, that was the moment, for me, that every person in that crowd were onside. Even that static pair in front of me.

Photo: Popped Music

Photo: Popped Music

This was my first visit to Gorilla and I have to say I was really impressed by it. The sound was great and the air con was much needed inside, despite the cold climes outside. Yet when the band came together mid stage to sing unplugged for Without/Within EP track Sophie, they actually turned the air con off so we could literally hear a pin drop. It was such a special moment and the venue really helped make it so. This song was as note perfect as every other song had been thus far and such a testament to the band that they could bring something so quietly beautiful to the table and perform it so intensely. The on stage relationship between the band members is strong and every now and then Davie and Joey Haynes (vocals, banjo) met in the middle of the stage, bonded over the sheer love of it all.

Bear’s Den are all very many looking, yet their music has such a tenderness and fragility to it that it’s a joy to watch these three tall bearded brutes (in the nicest sense of the word) produce such sounds; equally from their instruments as it is from their incredible harmonies. Their album Islands came out last year and yet despite being a sell out show it was easier to pick out the die hard fans than it perhaps should have been. There were only a handful who sang every word. I’m fairly sure, however,  that should any of these people not have had the album, or indeed the rest of the back catalogue prior to the show, that they probably do now.

“This is our last one Manchester” Davies said in a very deadpan tone. “We absolutely will not be coming back to play anything else after this. Honest!”. How he kept a straight face I do not know. At last, here it was; Agape. My favourite song of all of 2013 (ruined in production, in my opinion, on the album, but I am slowly forgiving them now). This one every one knew – this was their, errr “Sex On Fire”, their “Wonderwall” – whatever/whoever you want to reference. The one song everyone had gone to hear and boy did everyone shout about it.

The return to stage was the quickest I have ever witnessed, giving further humour to Davie’s comments. This time they not only wanted to sing off mic but they wanted to do it “in the crowd”. Oh holy hell. I looked around. I was to the side of the middle and yup…. they were headed straight at me. I ended up not seeing a damn thing due to my un-gig friendly statute but I could hear and I very quietly sang along to Bad Blood. The crowd slowly built a foot stomping percussion toward the end which just made the moment even more special. This is a moment I am willing to bet will stick with me no matter how many other gigs or bands I see this year.

Photo: Popped Music

Photo: Popped Music

A return to the stage saw a crowd member yell “introduce your horn players”. To which Davie looked embarrassed for having not done so already. Luckily drummer Kevin Jones is as quick witted as they come and within seconds introduced the two horn players…. to each other. If I could have got down on the floor and rolled around laughing I would have. It was perfect. Band members introduced and rightfully applauded Bear’s Den played out to Sahara Pt1/Pt2. I won’t lie, my heart sunk just a little when they left the stage. This was the best I’d ever seen them. Thanks for such a great and lucky show.


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  • About Popped Music

    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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