Live Review: Bear’s Den – Manchester

Bear’s Den

02 Manchester, 30th March 2017

Words: Sara Parker 

The Bear’s lit up the Den at the Manchester leg of their current UK tour. But before I wax lyrical about the almighty Bear’s, let me touch upon Banfi and Seramic

Arriving at the gig a little later than anticipated I was able to catch the last song of the Banfi set, and I was curious to discover how Banfi’s sound had developed since becoming part of a 3-piece band.  I was a staunch follower of Joe Banfi and saw him a couple of times in Manchester, once as support and once as a headline. Although I only caught the last song of this set, and current single Rosedale House I noticed the change to Banfi’s sound.  Still as unique as ever, but with a more upbeat and hopeful tone, no more melancholic melodies – but as I said, I only caught the last song.  However, the band was very well received with much applause and gratitude from the audience. They’d obviously been a hit!

Seramic burst onto the stage at the O2 and immediate funked up the audience – it was hard not to get swept up by their stage presence, with a special nod to backing singer, Layla Lea.  What an abundance of energy!  For those that know Seramic, you will appreciate that his new music is such a departure from his original stuff, but what an impact! Seramic showed off his falsetto to perfection and gave an overview of his full range across his set. From the slower People Say which was performed with such vigour and enough to give goose bumps, to the set-closer Greg’s Love which totally blew the audience away, with its exuberant energy, dedicated to ‘Donkey’! (You know who you are!).Single I Got You showcased the witch house sound that Seramic seems to be using in his new music, which is refreshing, unique and contemporary.  All in all Seramic gave us a completely mixed up set of 70’s vibes with psychedelic sounds and an overall tone of groove and funk. Seramic left his mark on the gig goers and judging by the reaction, both at the academy and on social media following their performance, they gained a room full of new fans.

Having seen Bear’s Den several times in smaller venues, I was eager to see how their set differed from the intimate setting to the larger location. I was not disappointed.  No more walking on stage to quiet applause and anticipation, the Bear’s arrived to astounding applause following what must have easily have been a 60 second build up, opening with Red Earth and Pouring Rain to the light fantastic!  Followed by Emeralds then crowd-pleaser and fan favourite Elysium, and back to their folk roots and drum led with banjo and live trumpet.   It was back to Greenwoods Bethlehem and an acoustic set of Stubborn Beast.  Followed by Isaac which the crowd sang to their hearts content, pleasing the band immensely.  Throughout the set, Davie expressed Bear’s Den’s gratitude of being able to play at a larger venue, which was obviously quite intimidating for them all.  However, the band’s lack of confidence at being at such a large venue didn’t once show through and a full and heart warming set was given to the audience in its entirety.

The middle of the set was graced with a fairly new song Her Tears and Berlin, which was written on the road and set the scene with a landscape of lyrics. Gabriel was sung with a haunting performance involving an echoed drum beat.

When You Break was given a new lease of life lending itself to a more rockier version than the original, but was perfectly played out in its current production, with lighting complementing the meaning of the song, along with the brilliant Auld Wives which wouldn’t be out of place to a full stadium, adding to the list of potential anthems that will grow with the band whilst collecting new fans and a larger audience along the way.

Coming to the end of the set and before last song ‘Pompeii’ (which was delivered with beautiful harmonies) Davie joked about the day dream of an encores and how one day he hoped they would be able to give one…

Cue the encore…. Just to make sure Bear’s Den did come back on the audience cheers and clapped and stomped and went mad when the band came back on stage for ‘Dew on the Vine’ and an unabridged acoustic performance of Bad Blood with just three Bear’s – Davie, Kev and new band member, Christof (who, by the way, is a fab addition to the band!). No microphones, no amps, just three very talented  singers giving their all to a crowd who were mesmerised and were as quiet as the dusk takes away the noise of the day…

The almighty Bear’s Den closed with Agape, another crowd and fan favourite. It was brilliant to see this band shine as bright as the light show that accompanied this new set and tour.

Watch the video for Greenwoods Bethlehem here:

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