Live review: Bear’s Den at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 23/04/2019

Quiet but loud, seared with heartache but soaring with joy; west-London’s Bear’s Den thrive in the contrasts, the way they tackle sorrow with lilting positivity.

Returning to their old neighbourhood for a two-date run at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, it’s clear Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones have plenty on their mind as they plough quickly through material from new album ‘So That You might Hear Me’.

With the band increased to six members for the shows, the new tracks build the atmosphere well, with many digging into some dark places; ‘Crow’deals with the impact and subsequent loss of a step-father figure, while ‘Blankets Of Sorrow’ repurposed for the live show as a completely-acoustic set-closer performed in the crowd, is utterly captivating.

As the band start digging into the back catalogue, the audience starts relaxing a little with ‘Clouds of Pompeii’ and ‘Auld Wives’ offering a dose of familiarity to proceedings.

So lost in the set is Davie, he jokingly apologies for the lack of chat between songs, but talk isn’t needed when you play as well as this band. They cruise through the soaring highs and crashing lows of each and every song, imbuing them with an emotion and power that is all too rare in a live act.

They keep things simple on set design for the most part, but the lighting is perfectly judged in bringing to life the wistful ‘Elysium’ and defiant finishing track ‘Agape’.

Rare are the bands able to elicit pin-drop silence from a crowd one moment and raucous sing-alongs the next, but Bear’s Den do it as a matter of course.

Three albums in there is still plenty to work on, with the occasional track seeping into the next in similarity, but there is also a lot more to be excited about.

 

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