Eliza and the Bear
Islington Assembly Hall, London
April 7 2016
Words/Photos: Jess Sharrock
Tonight, playing a London hometown show, the five-piece Eliza and the Bear welcomed us all in with open arms from the get-go. Snuggled into a sold-out Islington Assembly Hall on the first night of their tour - and their release show for new album out this week - they were clearly happy to be back home in the capital, and definitely showed everyone how to party!
Kicking off on ‘Light It Up’ got the crowd moving, though with this band with every song it’s difficult not to want to dance around. The superb set continued with a mix of their more well-known songs such as ‘Talk’ and ‘Lion’s Heart’ to songs from the new album: ‘Upon The North’, ‘Where Have You Been‘, ‘Brother’s Boat’.
Earlier this month, they also made their first (and hopefully not last) appearance on Radio 1’s Live Lounge where they wonderfully covered Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman’. We were lucky enough to have this included in the set, which showed a slightly different side to the band and sounded even better than it did on the radio.
As they closed the night with the encore the crowd was screaming for, namely ‘It Gets Cold’ and ‘Friends’, two of the most loved Eliza and the Bear songs, it felt like the perfect end to what had been a great show.
For me, the presence of the backing singers felt a little unnecessary at times, albeit they were very talented. But lead singer James Kellegher did a fantastic job without them; his vocal range, tones and strength are all pretty impressive to witness. However, their cheery, feel-good indie pop, infectious sound, and energetic beats are sure to resonate around the indie music scene for some time.
With their debut album finally materialising after a long time in the making - and a lot of blood, sweat and tears going into it, apparently - it was obvious the band were excited to be finally able to release it to the world. It was nice to see how humbled and thankful they were to their fans for the support, and the opportunity that allowed them to get their music out to the masses. There was a lot of love in the room!
Eliza and the Bear have gone from strength to strength in the past couple of years, with ‘Friends’ being used in a popular TV advert, increasing radio play, and a rapidly growing, ever-eager fan base. 2016 is definitely going to be a massive year for these guys - and they well deserve it.