Live Review: Boy & Bear at Manchester Club Academy – 21st February 2016

By on Monday, 29th February 2016 at 2:00 pm

Boy & Bear have a unique ability to transport you from whatever your location is, even a dreary, rain soaked night in the middle of Manchester, to a sunny paradise. With their pure form of folk rock that utilises the kind of hooks that stay with you long after the band has left the stage, twinned with heart-on-sleeve lyrics, they have all of the charm and talent of a band twice their career length. It’s noticeable from the get-go that singer and guitarist Dave Hosking has the kind of charismia that makes you follow his every word and motion, even though it can seem reserved at times. The band behind him are perfect executors of his sound and vision.

Touring in support of their third album effort ‘Limit of Love’ (video of title track here), the band have more than enough material to entice fans in and create a relaxed atmosphere without losing energy. Opening with a cut from the new record, ‘Where’d You Go’, the instant the guitar bursts across the PA system, their hold begins. Harmonies between the rest of the band and Hoskings are immaculate, each member contributing to form a Beach Boys-worthy accompaniment. Everything just seems so effortless.

A cover of Amy Winehouse ‘Back to Black’, perfectly executed with solemn grace, is a mid-set break from the tropical paradise we’re audibly on, almost like thunderclouds. This is by no means a negative thing: the cover itself is dark and brooding, and the familiarity of the song ensures those who may not be entirely accustomed with the back catalogue of Boy & Bear are brought back to attention just in time for the big hitters. 2013’s massive hit ‘Southern Sun’ is greatly received, with the crowd singing along joyously during the chorus.

Even between songs, the band are able to charm the crowd with their stage patter, in particular telling the story of the band missing support act George Crosby due to security issues. In the venue next door, Americans Twenty One Pilots were playing a sold-out show that was under high security and that meant unfortunately for Boy & Bear, they were denied permission to the backstage car park after going out after soundcheck. This didn’t stop them: they simply reversed their van and with the tour manager guiding them, they mounted the curb and drove through a hedge to get around the barrier. Who says rock ‘n’ roll is the only genre that can fight the system?

Finale ‘Walk The Wire’ is by far the most welcomed track of the evening. It loses none of its power live, something that can plague even the most tenured of acts. It’s an absolutely perfect way for the band to leave an impression on the crowd, ensuring that upon their return the rooms will be larger and folk rock can continue its storm into the mainstream.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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