When London duo Bear’s Den took to the stage on the first eve of their fall tour, they were met with cheers of strong support from a packed house. It would be the first of two sold out nights at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade, as well as a completely sold out tour from coast to coast in North America through the end of September. Bear’s Den’s Andrew Davie (simply Davie) and Kev Jones are the epitome of the term ‘lads’, defined in a British dictionary as “a lively or dashing man or youth”. The exuberance and energy that emanates from these gentlemen quickly engages the audience and sets the atmosphere for the entirety of the show.
Arriving in New York City after about a year and a half, they’re back on the heels of their recent release of Red Earth, Pouring Rain, their sophomoric album released by Communion Records (co-founded by Kev Jones and Mumford & Son’s Ben Lovett). This was the first taste we’ve received of the album live, and while there is more of an electronic synth presence, the original elements of their first album Islands is ever-present. In an interview about the new release Kev stated, “We wanted to make a great album for driving at night…a good metaphor for the mood is the idea of driving forwards while looking in the rearview mirror”. In the past, one would have dubbed the band as part of the folk-rock genre, but to see how they view themselves as artists, a quick visit to their Facebook page reveals a one word answer – Genre:Swag.
From the opening anthemic sound of their title track this, “swag” flowed throughout the performance. The setlist jumped around quite a bit from new songs like, “Emeralds”, “Roses on a Breeze”, and “Napoleon” to old favorites, “Elysium”, “Above the Clouds of Pompeii”, and “The Love that We Stole”. Some quick banter between songs had a humble vibe of gratefulness to the fans for showing up and supporting the band, and the disbelief that the tour had completely sold out. As the band announced they had come to their last song for the evening, the crowd groaned in disappointment. Both Kev and Davie joked, “No, this is for sure our last song. We definitely will not be persuaded to go behind that wall and come back out thirty seconds later and play something else”. Now having two albums to pull from, the band of course returned with a few more for their encore. Surrounded by fans mid-venue, the band performed an emotional acoustic version of “Gabriel”. Quickly heading back onto the stage and amping up for probably their best known rousing track “Agape”, Bear’s Den provided the perfect farewell to one of the last summer nights in New York City.
Red Earth, Pouring Rain is out now on Communion Records. The band will make their US television debut on October 15, as part of the CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions.
Check out Amanda Eckert’s photos from Bear’s Den’s set at Rough Trade:
Bear’s Den Setlist – Rough Trade NYC, Brooklyn 9/13:
Red Earth, Pouring Rain
Roses on a Breeze
Love That We Stole
Love Can’t Stand Alone
Dew on the Vine