UNIVERSALLY cheery, indie pop fivesome, Eliza and the Bear graced the small stage of Manchester’s Academy 3 to thrill a packed room on Thursday evening. With a new album on the way and a new sound to showcase Quays News entertainment reporter Will Whitby went down to catch the hype…

The show itself was upgraded from the basement Club Academy to the Academy 3, an incredibly intimate venue within the mazes of stairs and corridors of Manchester Academy and the Manchester Uni Student Union.

Support came from The LaFontaines, Scotland’s indie-rap poster boys with a point to prove. The Glaswegian outfit combines heavy tones of indie rock with raucous rap verses with a big helping of Scottish swagger to give it its edge.

Their debut album, Class, was released earlier this year and charted – a very impressive feat for an unsigned band doing everything independently – an accolade they’re very proud of. Oozing confidence and having a stage presence that could fill one much greater than the Academy 3’s small space.

Frontman, Kerr Okan, turned the room electric in much anticipation of headline act, Eliza and the Bear- but the crowd had a good time with the Scottish lads along the way. Bassist and vocalist, John Gerrard, was absent on the night with Mike Cassidy standing in, doing the job some incredible justice despite being only 12 hours into his membership with the band.

La FontainesIn a recent interview with Quays News the band say that their sound ‘comes quite naturally, we’re five different people and when we get in a room that’s the kind of sound we make.’ A sound that evidently goes down very well with tracks ‘Junior Dragon’, ‘All She Knows’ and recent single ‘King’ all igniting the crowd. The highlight though was definitely their final track of the night, ‘Shark In The Water’. Their usually gritty rap-indie meets a slightly pendulum, DnB niche to finish the set off with bang and leaving the room thoroughly pumped and pleased with The LaFontaines show. They’re a must see!

Eagerly awaited headliners, Eliza and the Bear, finally graced the stage to smoke, lights and an appreciative full room opening with their newest track ‘Lion’s Heart’. Eliza and the Bear fill a gap in music that has proved difficult for many bands over the years but in which they are excelling.

Creating chirpy, anthemic indie pop that doesn’t appear repetitive; and every track is fresh and pleasing on the ear and the crowd. Tracks like ‘Light It Up’ and ‘Brother’s Boat’ make the set universally cheery and loved by everyone in the room. It’s impossible to feel down or remain still at an Eliza and the Bear show.

Around this time last year Quays News caught the band’s show at the Ruby Lounge and it’s clear and very pleasing to see how much the band have improved on an already good set list and sound to gain a lot more fans and respect. A fact that the band are very appreciative for, thanking the crowd multiple times throughout the night with complete sincerity.

Moving through the set list the crowd were treated to some of the new tracks that will feature on their self-titled debut album released on February 19 next year – an album much anticipated for some time by any self-respecting indie pop fan. Tracks like, ‘Make It On My Own’, show off a slightly darker, gritty edge to the London outfit.

Whereas, ‘Talk’, also featured on the bands EP, ‘Light It Up’, showcase the sound that has matured from the band’s start to a now refined anthemic indie pop that has become associated with Eliza & The Bear.

On the other hand new track, ‘Cruel’, gets to show another more tender side of the usually joyous quintet. The track originally played acoustically by lead vocalist James and guitarist Martin, the song has been transformed into a full band ballad belter. In our recent interview with the band they place thanks for this change on the man behind their debut record, respected producer, Jacquire King.

Finishing with an encore of ‘Friends’ and ‘It Gets Cold’; two tracks that showcase the best of Eliza and the Bear have to offer. The crowd left thoroughly pleased to the cold Manchester night after meeting the bands at the merch stand for a friendly hello and a free condom with every merchandise purchase from the Lafontaine lads.

By: Will Whitby

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