Review: Boy and Bear at Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (18/11/2014)

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Boy and Bear’s banter was awkward but entertaining. The Aussie five-piece soulfully performed to a half full crowd at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms. David Hosking (vocals and guitar) commented that the audience were, in the pauses between songs, as quiet as ‘a library’; joking that even the church they had played the day before was more lively the Portsmouth venue! However, the lack noise from the crowd did not reflect their musical talents that were, in my opinion, outstanding.

The band, comprised of five members: David Hosking, Killian Gavin, Timothy Hart, Jonathon Hart and David Symes, have released two albums since their formation in 2009. The most notable of which (and my personal favourite) is their debut album called Moonfire. Currently, they are touring their second album, Harlequin Dream, throughout the UK and Europe. It seems that their main fan base is in their home country, to which their second album reached number 1 on the Australian music sales charts (ARIA) within the first week of its debut.

The reception at the Wedgewood Rooms was severely unenthusiastic. This might have been due to the sombre and serious (but musically sound) support act, Dancing Years, which dispelled any previous positive atmosphere. Their set was musically interesting (with the addition of a violin) but did little to increase any kind of excitable atmosphere in the room. I recommend a listen to Dancing Years as they are good, but a sound that would be best as background noise whilst studying.

Boy and Bear’s musical talents did not reflect the previous conservative tone. They played tracks from both albums, perfectly filling up their hour and a half slot. They did so with such careful ease; constantly checking their peers to ensure the sound was as they wanted it. And it was certainly how I wanted it. They played better than in any of their studio recordings. This, for me, shows the true excellence of a band; one that can surpass their recorded sound into something that feels purely organic and effortless. Throughout the entire show I was transported to the lazy, small, rural communities of Australia, feeling apart of the rich narratives they were describing. Their set ended (‘we don’t do encores because we never have’) on two of my personal favourites: ‘Feeding Line’ and ‘Big Man’.

Overall, the night was a memorable one. The atmosphere if a little underwhelming to begin with, became casual and, on the odd occasion, humorous. The band seemed to have a great dynamic and appeared to be very comfortable with each other, making it enjoyable to watch. If you haven’t heard of this band before then I would recommend a listen, particularly to Moonfire, and hopefully you can also make a connection with David’s heart-felt lyrics.

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