Sunday 23 April 2017

LIVE: Bear's Den for Richer Unsigned at St Giles Church (22/4/17)

Having planned an essay on Friday evening I'd decided on a productive Saturday writing it, however spontaneity got in the way of that after I got lucky in the front row ticket lottery for the current production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead at The Old Vic, with a cast lead by Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire. After arriving at the theatre in the absolute nick of time with only a few minutes to spare I was glad I'd made the journey as the pair, supported by a great ensemble cast, put on a brilliant performance - the play admittedly made a lot more sense because I'd seen Hamlet twice recently, I can imagine being fairly confused at parts without having seen it. It was also super exciting to see a big poster for the upcoming Charlie Fink show at the theatre where he'll be performing all the tracks from his upcoming solo album in a production of the same name, Cover My Tracks.

After the play and some time loitering in Waterloo station I decided to head to St Giles in the Fields church in Soho, where a couple of my friends were queuing for a concert headed up by Bear's Den. It was organised by the Richer Sounds offshoot RicherUnsigned, through which the Bear's Den lads have curated a special vinyl of unsigned artists (including Gizmo Varillas) to coincide with Record Store Day. Tickets were given away in a ballot and I hadn't been lucky but decided to go and see my friends in the queue and see if anybody around had a spare, luckily I have friends braver than I am who asked security about returns... the right person overheard and with a few mins to go before doors opened I was on the guestlist, excited and a little (very) hungry.

Bear's Den at St Giles in the Fields Church

Before Bear's Den played for us, we were treated to sets from three artists who feature on the vinyl, first up the band Firewoodisland who already had me intrigued once I saw the accordion on stage - the last couple of times I can recall seeing an accordion are acoustic Jack Savoretti and The Hoosiers concerts - great company to keep, if I do say so... They had brilliant harmonies between the five of them and a stand out track was Mole Hills which I've found a Sofar Sounds London video of below!

Next up we were in familiar waters, with Christof, who plays alongside the Bear's Den lads on guitar/banjo and vocals, performing a set of his solo music. Before he joined the band I was vaguely aware of his solo music and it was great to finally hear him perform tracks from his beautiful Montreal EP. Despite being just one guy I got some real Fleet Foxes vibes from his set and really loved his vocals, and I'm glad to hear that he's going into the studio next month to work on his album. Special mention has to go to his incredibly funny stage chatter about guitar tuning, ping pong and the places he's lived.

Up next were Jim & Sam, who Davie of Bear's Den introduced, telling us that they're on a tour which involves playing a show every day for a year, which started back in November. The guitar and vocals set-up probably helps (in comparison to setting up for a full band show every day) but the tour still earns massive respect! They made me think back fondly on Lewis & Leigh and Joseph & Maia, it's been a good couple of years for boy/girl duos! A fitting title for a track performed in a church, Holy Water refrain 'blame me if you want to, shame me if you need to, stone me but I love her still' aimed at their parents was pretty memorable!

As if all that weren't enough their set was shortly followed by the absolute brilliance of Bear's Den.  Following their huge sold out show to Hammersmith Apollo a couple of weeks ago it was great to see them in such an intimate and beautiful venue, and it was particularly lovely to hear my favourite first album track again, Magdalene, but the whole set was stunning and I'm glad I risked heading to the venue! It was my seventh time seeing them in the space of a year, and the third of those sets to be in a church, which I've concluded is a pretty wonderful space for their music, especially when they played the religiously named Gabriel unplugged among the pews, which my friend recorded and you can watch below!

A day working on an essay turned spontaneously into one of the best days of the year so far - now to focus on the last couple of assignments before finishing third year in a couple of weeks time. Although it wouldn't be right without a handful of gigs... I'm looking forward to my last (boo!) Sofar Sounds Oxford tomorrow night, followed by running the door for Tom Figgins' London gig on Wednesday and Harry Pane's Oxford gig on Sunday. Lots of brilliant music to listen to!

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