The band have been taunting fans with singles from the new album So That You Might Hear Me (set for release on 26th April) since January when they surprised fans with a more electric musical direction with ‘Fuel on the Fire’. But before fans get to hear these new tracks (and old) live, Tusks (Emily Underhill) graces the stage with her soft, delayed guitar sound, similar to that of Daughters release Not to Disappear. With over 2 million Spotify streams for her track ‘Toronto’ from 2017 album Dissolve and a new album on the way, I think we can expect to hear much more of Tusks in 2019.
The room suddenly fills as 9pm draws closer, the room turns to blackness as Bear’s Den take to the stage and we hear the intro synths of ‘Fuel on the Fire’, the band perform in almost darkness for the whole track, the room only lighting up on the root notes.
‘Elysium’ and ‘Dew On The Vine’ sees the band leave their microphones to play together in the centre of the stage, bouncing off each others energy. Bear’s Den then treat the crowd to a new track called ‘Fossils’ , a beautiful combination of acoustic fingerpicking and ‘Fuel On The Fire’ style synths before returning back to their 2014 album with track ‘Magdalene’ which features a perfectly blended 3 part harmony from Andrew Davie, Kevin Jones and Christof Can der Ven, this finishes with the band singing quieter and quieter until, silence followed by rapturous applause.
The crowd are graced with two new tracks ‘Hiding bottles’ and ‘Crow’, as well as two 2014 favourites ‘Stubborn Beast’ and ‘Issac’ where the crowd go completely silent and quietly murmur the words “I’m gonna give all my love to you” in unison with Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones.
The room disappears into darkness once again as the lights, amps and microphones are shut down. Andrew Davie announces to a confused crowd that ‘Sophie’ will be performed ‘unplugged’. The O2 sits in silence, no one talks, everyone is attentive and respectful as the band perform a beautiful version of the 2013 track to the crowd. The room is suddenly awash in thick red lights, breaking the silent darkness as the acoustic riffs of ‘Love That We Stole’ and ‘When You Break’ amplify the room before everyone gets to hear their newly released track ‘Laurel Wreath’.
Of course, two major hits have been left out of the set so when the band leave the stage, we know they aren’t leaving Bristol without playing their crowd pleasers. ‘Above The Clouds of Pompeii’ is among the first to light up the room and then we find out why the security team were keeping one of the stairwells clear, ‘Blankets of Sorrow’ is performed amongst the crowd ‘unplugged’ after a roar of excited cheers, of course they return to the stage to finish their beautifully constructed set with hit track ‘Agape’.
If you’re looking for a band that you can just kick back and chill out to, Bear’s Den tick every box and are definitely the band for you, you won't find any mosh pits or crowd surfers here but you will find an incredible mix of acoustic and electric music paired with great, meaningful songwriting. Don’t hesitate to catch them live if you get the chance!
Review and Photography by Abbie Barton