On Friday night I headed to The Garage in Highbury to watch Hunter & The Bear play a sold-out show to a hometown crowd. Back in April 2017 I was lucky enough to attend the band’s album launch event at which they played a selection acoustic versions of tracks from their debut album Paper Heart (reviewed by Sheggs). It was a great night and I have been keen to see the guys play a full live show ever since. Hunter & The Bear are four handsome London lads whose music is a blend of classic rock with a folk twist and catchy pop hooks… what’s not to like?!
Despite the snowy weather preventing a few people from making their way to Highbury, the venue was packed and there was a great atmosphere in the room as indie folk duo Upstairs Open took to the stage shortly after 7:45pm. This was the band’s first ever London show but if they were nervous it certainly didn’t show as they wowed the crowd with their beautiful harmonies and soulful sound. They played a short but sweet set featuring their latest single “You Got Love”.
When the clock struck 8:45pm there was a palpable buzz of excitement in the room as the house lights went down and the stage lights danced around, teasing the entrance of the headliners. Hunter & The Bear bounded onto the stage and opened their set with their most recent single “Skin Tight” to rapturous applause. The four lads were full of energy from the very start and their performance was really engaging – everyone in the room was moving and grooving to some extent.
Today was bassist Chris’s birthday so vocalist Will led the crowd in a round of “Happy Birthday” to celebrate the occasion, as the birthday boy raised a bottle of beer appreciatively before taking a swig and getting back to business. Their mammoth fifteen-track set largely featured tracks from their debut album Paper Heart, but they also included some new tracks such as upcoming single “Charlotte Street”, which is due to be released on 30 March.
Hunter & The Bear have a sound that I think would appeal to a broad spectrum of music fans, with soaring guitar parts and strong vocal harmonies, and Will’s raspy vocals telling tales of romance and heartbreak. They are great fun to watch on stage, particularly guitarist Jimmy’s magnificent mane! Drummer Gareth always has a cheeky grin on his face, and all four of them look like they are having the time of their lives. Their passion for their music and the 110% they put into performance makes them all the more likeable. I think these guys will go far, so catch them in a small venue while you can!
Hunter & The Bear will be playing another sold out show at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow on 29 March, and have just announced a UK-wide tour in October. Tickets go on sale Monday at 10am. Head to their website for all the details.
Photos by Katie Frost Photography
Hunter & The Bear Set-list:
- Skin Tight
- Who’s Gonna Hear You
- Won’t You Ever Come Home
- I Am What I Am
- You Can Talk
- Charlotte Street
- Paper Heart