Another Friday night in New York brought me to lovely Williamsburg to catch Bear’s Den playing Night 2 of their sold out run here, along with opening act Gill Landry along for the ride. Bear’s Den have been enjoying this second run in support of their sophomore release, Red Earth & Pouring Rain, and this night was no different.
Starting the night promptly at 9pm, Gill Landry took the stage with just his guitar strapped to his back, and a couple of different harmonicas in his pockets. Gill’s voice reverberated and filled the space, capturing our attention with tales of love, loss, and hardship, and even made time in between songs to commiserate with us about the state of our politics. Gill’s set, while filled with seemingly melancholy songs, worked to lift my mood, especially listening to everyone around me hoot and holler in approval for both his songs and words.
With lights dimmed low, and to the theme of “Terminator,” the boys of Bear’s Den made their way onstage to begin their set with the title track of their latest release. The packed house hung on every single word Davie sang, his lyrics painting the most vivid of pictures of heartbreak, longing, and eventually redemption. Bear’s Den have often been compared to Mumford & Sons, but they have since set themselves apart, while still managing to stay true to their folk roots.
The band has also grown in size since the last album, from 3 principle members, to a full band. Replacing original member Joey Haynes, Christof van der Ven has proven to be a more than adequate addition, lending his voice to their impeccable harmonies, and showcasing his skills on both guitar and banjo. Many other band members are also multi-instrumentalists, with Kevin lending his talents to both bass and drums, and both the drummer and keyboard player showing off their talents on trumpet and French horn, respectively.
Older songs settled in nicely amongst newer ones, with both sounding lush and full-bodied. The crowd eagerly clapped and stomped along to the more up-tempo selections like “Greenwoods Bethlehem,” and “Auld Wives Lang,” and stood in complete silence during quiet numbers like “Roses on A Breeze,” and “Love Can’t Stand Alone.” The glances between each member during certain parts of the songs, and Davie’s bashful grins during raucous applause were entirely endearing and outlined the humbleness that surrounds the band, even as the stages they play get bigger and bigger.
Another lighthearted moment during the night was when Christof was challenged to do the “water bottle flip” in front of the entire audience, and even under that amount of pressure, he nailed it, earning a round of loud applause and cheers of approval.
True to form, near the end of the night, the trio leapt into the crowd to sing “Gabriel” acapella. Having seen this numerous times, I’m happy to say this still hasn’t lost its appeal, and neither has the art of the cover song. On this tour, the band has been covering songs that relate to each city they visit, and we were lucky enough to get Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” during the encore, before sending us off with perhaps the most anticipated selection of the evening, “Agape.”
Bear’s Den manages to remain true to their sound, while still keeping it fresh, relevant and captivating. They’ve carved out quite a niche for themselves that I see getting bigger and bigger with more stellar releases and sold-out performances like this one. Be sure to catch them in your city before it’s too late.
Article: Lesley Keller