FOLLOWING the release of their second album earlier this year, Bear’s Den performed to a sold out crowd at Albert Hall last night as part of their UK and European tour. Combining poetic and emotion-fuelled lyrics with an incredible stage presence, it was an evening to remember.
First to take to the stage was Australian songsmith, Patrick James. The solo artist performed a set of original songs full of soft acoustics and heartfelt lyrics.
‘Bugs’ was a particular highlight, taken from the artist’s album ‘Outlier’. During the song, James urged the fairly small crowd to sing certain lyrics. The audience delivered, and soon enough, the walls were filled with the words being given back to him.
He grinned before saying, “Thanks so much for that, now I don’t look like a t*sser!”
The multi-instrumentalist smoothly switched from acoustic guitar to keyboard throughout his thirty minute set and attracted more audience engagement as he performed an array of songs from his latest album.
Naming The Killers as both an inspiration and one of his favourite bands, James performed a rendition of their 2012 song, ‘Runaways’ and it’s safe to say he killed it.
James rounded up his performance with the catchy acoustic track ‘Covered in Rain’, before exclaiming how “awesome” the Manchester audience had been. He had undoubtedly gained a number of new fans by the end of his set.
OMG Bears Den have BOTH Patrick James and Matthew and the Atlas supporting them in Manchester tonight, THAT SOUNDS LIKE PERFECTION ❤️
— gave me cookie got u cookie (@faayza) November 4, 2016
Alternative folk outfit, Matthew and the Atlas were the second incredible support act of the night. Frontman Matt Hegarty is signed to Communion, the same label as the evening’s headliners. The growing audience were definitely expecting a top performance.
They weren’t disappointed. The five-piece dived straight in and gave it their all, kicking off with the title track from their second album, ‘Temples’. The polished act managed to combine Hegarty’s husky vocals with flawless instrumentals.
After a quick introduction, ‘On A Midnight Street’ was next on their set list. This song was full of energy and saw Emma Gatrill provide soft vocals alongside Hegarty, creating a satisfying combination.
Gatrill spoke highly of Bear’s Den during a break between songs, before praising the “amazing” Albert Hall as a venue and telling the audience that they were in for “one of the best nights” of their lives.
The atmosphere picked up even more during the group’s set with songs ‘Gutter Heart’ and ‘Mirrors’. The coloured stage lights even began to flash in time with the beats, adding that little bit extra to their whole performance.
Thanks Manchester! @mathewandtheatlas sounding ? https://t.co/ACCNvv65DY
— Patrick James (@patrickjamesmus) November 4, 2016
Headliners of the evening, Bear’s Den, soon made their way onto the stage where bottles of beer and water were lined up ready for them. Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones were joined by a group of six “legends and lads”, as Jones described them, and together they managed to bring the venue to life.
Bursting straight into the title track from their second album, ‘Red Earth & Pouring Rain’, dazzling lights filled the stage and the packed out audience recited every lyric of the dynamic track.
All donning shirts and with Davie sporting a fetching red cap, the group performed a satisfying mix of songs taken from both of their albums. With so many members on stage, there was a range of instruments being used and this helped to bring their amazing stage presence out.
Songs ‘Emeralds’ and ‘Greenwoods Bethlehem’ taken from their latest album encouraged the crowd to dance and sing along. The duo were vocally extremely appreciative of the support and engagement they had received.
Both Jones and Davie made their way around the stage as they continued to skilfully play through the non-stop set list. The pair also seemed to absorb multi-instrumentalist Christof as a third vocalist at the front of the stage, with the three of them congregating in the centre and smiling at each other throughout.
Part of the set was being filmed for a Facebook live video on Bear’s Den’s profile, which was a cool touch. This meant that fans who didn’t manage to get a ticket for the sold out gig or those from other countries could still see the live action.
At one of my favourite venues in Manchester filming a live stream for Bears Den tonight… pic.twitter.com/9z4kg7JDoD
— Mark Forrer (@markforrer) November 4, 2016
After ensuring that the Facebook live stream had finished, Jones announced that some of the group were then going to play an unplugged version of an old song using two banjos, as Jones so rightly put it: “Two banjos are better than one”.
The atmosphere was simply amazing as the crowd hushed and everyone watched the stunning performance of ‘Sophie’ in awe. This was definitely a personal highlight of the evening.
After a few more songs, Jones, Davie and Christof made their way into the crowd and played an unplugged version of ‘Gabriel’, taken from the new album. Hearing the vocals stripped back was so refreshing.
Ending with the classic ‘Above The Clouds Of Pompeii’, the whole audience were singing and dancing as the group performed the beautiful song with pure emotion.
Following a lot of shouting and stamping from the crowd, they returned for an encore and actually ended with the lovely ‘Magdalene’.
The incredible atmosphere lingered in the air long after Bear’s Den had left the stage. As united fans made their way to the exits, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’ was blasted out of the speakers and the singing and dancing continued.
Bear’s Den’s performance really brought everyone in the audience together. From the middle-aged men ‘dad dancing’ up on the balcony to the groups of teenage girls singing and swaying along.
It was amazing to see such a large and diverse crowd so devoted to a band. Jones and Davie’s slightly reserved and genuinely overwhelmed response combined with the stunning venue just made the evening even better.
— Becky Jade (@UnwinBecky) November 4, 2016