Review: Eliza And The Bear at The Joiners, Southampton

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I don’t think I’ve ever been to a gig where the band had such a good relationship with the audience. Indie rockers Eliza And The Bear delivered a set that, though cut short, seamlessly flowed from song to song, keeping the energy high and the audience engaged.

Their support act were Slow Lights, an indie rock band with a family link to the headliners. Their harmonies mixed well, and their songs were well received by the audience. Even some technical problems didn’t do much to disturb the set, although I was told to say that “it went completely smoothly and the singer sounds just like Justin Timberlake”. While this may not be entirely true, they were good at warming up the crowd before Eliza, and kept the audience entertained with some good music. Their latest single ‘Take What I Can Get’ was particularly catchy, even for those who hadn’t heard them before.

Eliza And The Bear had their set cut short, but that didn’t effect the quality of their performance or delivery. They kicked off proceedings with recent songs, ‘Lion’s Heart’ and ‘Upon The North’; a bold move considering standard practise is to begin with an oldie. The audience then sang along as loudly as they could to ‘Light It Up’.

Unfortunately, lead singer James unexpectedly lost his voice halfway through the set, hence why the evening ended early. But to help him out, the band asked if anyone knew the words to ‘Talk’ and invited people up on to the stage to sing it with them – which is, in my opinion, one of the coolest things you could experience as a fan! It’s also so much better for the audience than the artist going off stage – James still played, the band sang, and some fans got to sing songs with a band they love, to a sold-out venue. ‘Talk’ and ‘It Gets Cold’ are older songs, and even though the audience had received the news that the set was cut short they were still as engaged and sang just as much as they did at the start of the show.

The set remained impressive throughout, and I felt it perfectly celebrated the spirit of Independent Venue Week (having held their gig at The Joiners), a celebration of small music venues in the UK that are considered to be the backbone of live music.

Eliza And The Bear will be back in Southampton to play a free show to those who attended tonight. But personally, I think they delivered in that hour everything that a band should: good music, attitude and engagement.

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Third year PAIR student and live editor. Also the Wessex Scene's Head of Events. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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