The word ‘intimate’ perfectly fits Notting Hill’s intimate Tabernacle venue. Warm, salubrious and lush, it’s the perfect venue for the last show of Bear’s Den‘s European tour. Their debut album, Islands, follows their earlier EP releases Without/Within and Agape, and sees the band crystallise their sound.
They’ve come a long way since they formed in 2012, gathering an already loyal fanbase, and tonight’s show is a sell out. While it is small it’s packed from wall to wall, both levels crammed with a surprising range of ages. One would assume Bear’s Den’s demographic would be on the older side; the who likes to knock back a safe pint on a Thursday night while watching a safe band that started their career by safely touring with Mumford And Sons. However, while there’s a healthy dose of middle aged MOR folk fans, there’s also plenty in their 20s and 30s, and even younger. Like the Mumfords, it seems that Bear’s Den have already crossed the generation divide.
Their first LP, out this month, has sounds reminiscent of family holidays in Scotland, with calming acoustic melodies and a mix of banjo and acoustic guitar – a pleasant change from the synthesised acoustic melodies that may be found amongst their folk rock peers. It’s comforting, warm, and it spreads an overwhelming sense of community amongst this mix of music fans.
This atmosphere, which really made the night, peaked at the end of the set, where the band descended from the stage and played their encore in the middle of the crowd. You could hear the door at the side of the venue open and close – not that it did often – for the sheer silence of the room as they played Don’t Let The Sun Steal You Away from Without/Within. Surrounded by dedicated fans singing along to every word of Bad Blood, Bear’s Den set the perfect example of how to effortlessly captivate an audience.
If their live performance is anything to go by, Islands is set to be a debut that fluently tackles the balance between introspective lyrics and easy to listen to melodies; single Above The Clouds Of Pompeii is a promising example, both live and on record. The band were helped by both the spacious acoustics of the Tabernacle that carried singer Andrew Davie’s voice beautifully and the warm and welcoming audience. This was a charming gig from a band who promise big things.