Bears Den - Birmingham 02 Academy (2nd Nov 2016)

Bears Den – Birmingham 02 Academy (2nd Nov 2016)

Tension built as the pre-recorded stylings of a Bear’s Den esque backing track readied us for the entrance of the band. Andrew, Kevin and the rest of the band burst out upon a splay of silhouettes and the red/blue colour combination that is so gracefully adorned by the albums cover art. The backing track faded setting the band up perfectly to open with the title track from their follow up album ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’ which also happens to be the name of tour we laid witness to.

Following the brilliant replication and reception of the first two songs from their second album; the crowd was treated to the biblically anthemic ‘Elysium’ from their first. The melodic brass sections of this song were coupled with a fittingly radiant orange glow, met by the occasional burst of white mist which sat upon the glow like subtle clouds upon the sun.

This effective use of lighting was echoed later in the night when an enchanting green shade caught onto the smoke machine mist which was strewn across the stage, bouncing off of the bodies of each band member as they began the beautifully acoustic picks of ‘Greenwoods Bethlehem’. We were informed by front-man Andrew Davie that they always yearned to play the next song but “could never figure out how the fuck to play it live”. The song was a version of  ‘Stubborn Beast’ exclusive to this tour; which proved to be a fan favourite from the ‘Islands’ album judging by the crowds collective cheer of infatuation.

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Following ‘Stubborn Beast’ was a flawless rendition of a personal favourite ‘Isaac’ complete with heartfelt audience participation during the chorus. Next was an intense and emotional ‘Sophie’ which we were asked to be exceptionally quiet for as the song was to be performed completely acoustic. This created a comedic exchange of hushes between the band and audience adding to the intimacy. The small pocket of songs from the first album was concluded by ‘The Love That We Stole’ which brought along a foot stomping chorus; a welcome juxtaposition to the soft tones of the previous song.

Bringing us back to the new album came a trio of monumentally moody songs. The moments after ‘The Love That We Stole’ made the build up towards the end of the set seem more epic and important. During ‘Roses On A Breeze’, ‘Fortress’ and ‘Love Can’t Stand Alone’ there was a tension building that only seemed to be momentarily swayed by the thumping bass notes resonating from the mixture of synths, guitars and drums. This atmosphere was smashed into pieces with a climatically extended variant of ‘When You Break’.  A combination of frantic flashes beaconing out into a pitch black room and bombastic drums ever increasing in power were met by the rest of the band following suit and playing to optimal tension. The whole experience was met with mechanical precision built with layers of chaos just waiting to break through a sudden crash leaving only Davie and his guitar as he uttered the emotional closing lines.

A great exhaustion came across the room and the collective cheers were almost deafening. The conclusion felt as if it had already happened but there was more to come. The penultimate song of the set was ‘Auld Wives’ the song that introduced the fans to the new sounds of Bear’s Den back in June 2016. The final song (according to a cheekily grinning Kev) was ‘Above The Clouds Of Pompeii’ which was another greatly received anthem from their back-catalogue.

Throughout the gig there were occasional moments where the band interacted with the crowd however their stage presence as a whole came across as somewhat shy. We were asked to lower the tone once again and obediently obliged as the band made their way to the centre of the crowd for their penultimate encore track. Following an extremely intimate rendition of ‘Gabriel’ in the middle of the room came an explosive return to the stage with the bands ace in the hole and final song ‘Agape’. Thus bringing to a close a brilliant night of many emotions and ending on a high with the lung filling, vocal chord warming lyrical genius that is the bands first single.Bears Den - Birmingham 02 Academy (2nd Nov 2016)

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