I first stumbled across the fag end of a belting Eliza and The Bear set earlier this year during Live @ Leeds, the first floor room at Belgrave Music Hall absolutely packed to the rafters producing a quite electric atmosphere. I therefore resolved to give the London based quintet another look given the opportunity so this visit to the Wardrobe is to make sure the earlier performance was no fluke.
Before the main event, we’re treated to a clutch of surprisingly good sun-drenched dance pop anthems from Lisbon. These four lads have been on tour with EATB for a couple of weeks now and you can see why they’re on an upward curve. Their taut songs manage to avoid sounding like a Killers tribute band, a trap door that catches too many modern bands out these days. Stand out tracks include ‘Hustle’ and set closer, ‘Blue Love’ Nice work.
Eliza and the Bear hail from the big smoke and have been refining their tub thumping indie folk wall of sound for a couple of years now, the twin guitar/vocal assault of James Kellegher and Martin Dukelow, (the latter sporting bleached highlights combined with a bandanna this evening, how very Agassi) are exuberance personified as they pile into their opener ‘Family’. Backed up by Callie Noakes (piano/vocals) and Chris Brand (Bass), Paul Kevin Jackson, (Drums) plus an unnamed extra pitching in with assorted percussion and brass and we have one hell of a din on our hands with the hook laden ‘Upon the North’.
It’s slightly disappointing the place isn’t as full as Belgrave was a few months earlier but that doesn’t seem to put these guys off and they’re all playing as if their lives depend on it. Even the keyboard player is head banging, no mean feat as he’s a pretty big lad as the brassy warmth of ‘The Southern Wild’ gives way to the soaring choruses of ‘Talk’. James even has to overcome guitar issues during ‘Our Love’ causing a hasty rejigging of the set list although the band have brought more axes with them than the Canadian Olympic Lumberjack team, honestly there must be about a dozen lined up.
Normal service is soon resumed for the final quartet of numbers, the big meaty riffage of ‘Brother’s Boat’ followed by an acoustic number (currently boasting the title ‘Cool’) from the forthcoming new Eliza album being recorded after the completion of this tour. ‘Light it Up’ and ‘It Gets Cold’ bring the gig to a resounding climax followed by an appearance at the merchandise stall before the throng realise they’ve had no encore…..the cheek of it!
No need to outstay one’s welcome.
Words - Mike Price
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