One of the most consistent bands I’ve had the pleasure of following from the beginning of their inception is Bear’s Den – a three piece folk-rock band from London. During that time, the folk-rock genre saw a huge surge of popularity from the Mumford and Sons foursome, and Bear’s Den wound up carving out their own permanent place for years to come. With a slew of EP releases, the departure of member Joey Haynes transforming them into a duo, the subsequent addition of Christof van der Ven as a touring member, and a new album released this past April called So that you might hear me, the band finally made their return to NY to play Irving Plaza in front of a jam-packed crowd of adoring fans.
Beginning the night, opener Vera Sola, backed by a bassist and drummer, took the stage in a long, black flowing gown, and charmed the crowd with her unique vibrato and clever lyricism. The all-woman three-piece moved effortlessly from song to song, with Vera joking about being glad to be back at Irving Plaza legally, since the venue was also the same place that seized her fake I.D. years ago, and graciously thanking the audience for allowing her to perform for them, effectively making it so she’d never need to return to her old job.
After a brief stage changeover, the familiar sounds of Bear’s Den opening music blared over the house speakers. An odd choice of “The Terminator” signaled the band’s intention to crush their upcoming set, but knowing the humor of Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones, this impending “annihilation music” also signaled the band’s brand of humor and ability to not take themselves too seriously.
The band weaved effortless through their entire catalogue, including selections from every one of their albums. The crowd included a wide range of ages, and along the front row, there were mostly men who unapologetically sang and clapped along for the entirety of the show. Desperate shouts for “POMPEII!” or “ISAAC!” or “SOPHIE!” all came from enthusiastic men in the audience determined to hear their favorite songs. All of those pleas and then some were heard and acknowledged, yielding thunderous rounds of applause and lengthy cheers. Thanking the audience several times, Davie couldn’t help but break out into smiles, and his elation was mirrored in the faces of everyone onstage, plainly displaying how much the band was enjoying being onstage together despite how many times they must have performed these same songs in the past. Another highlight – horns! A trumpeter and a French horn to be exact. The addition of live horns during a Bear’s Den show always takes the music to the next level and I sincerely hope they will always bring their horn players out on tour for years to come.
Taking to the middle of the crowd near the close of the show, the trio performed an acoustic version of “Blankets of Sorrow” that rendered the crowd so speechless I could hear someone set their glass down at the bar in the very back of the room. Bear’s Den’s knack for lyrics that tell stories full of vivid imagery and evoke raw emotion are one of the lasting hallmarks of the band that keep their fan base so solid year after year and album after album. It may be several years between their visits to NY, but you can be sure that they’ll always have a packed room full of faithful fans willing to listen.
Article: Lesley Keller