On Wednesday I headed along to see Hunter & The Bear play their biggest ever headline gig at Scala in London as part of their seven-date UK tour. Despite the show not being officially sold out, the 1145-capacity room certainly looked pretty full to me, which was impressive for a mid-week show.
First to hit the stage were alt-rock trio Calva Louise who were full of energy right from the very start; with guitarist Jess and bassist Alizon bouncing around the stage looking like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Their music has a grunge/punk/pop sound which I really liked, and the combination of groovy riffs and Jess’ biting vocals was excellent. Their set went down really well with the crowd and I for one would definitely go and see them live again.
Next up were South Yorkshire alt-indie-pop quartet Alvarez Kings. The band usually consists of brothers Simon and Paul Thompson (on vocals/guitar and bass/keys respectively), together with Sean on guitar and Richard on drums, but Simon told the crowd that his brother was in Crete, and tonight was the first show he had ever played without his brother on stage with him – aw. Revised line-up aside, the band put on a wonderfully energetic guitar and synth-tastic set featuring tracks from their 2017 debut album Somewhere Between, closing their set with “Postcards From Berlin”.
Prior to the headliners taking to the stage, a figure dressed in an orange boiler suit and a black balaclava did the final checks on stage to a soundtrack of “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys, which was an interesting sight to behold! Shortly before 10pm Hunter & The Bear took to the stage, met by a wall of applause from the excited crowd. The last time I saw the band play a gig in London was at The Garage back in March which was a sold out gig and had a brilliant atmosphere. Hunter & The Bear always put on a great live show and tonight was no different; bassist Chris and lead guitarist Jimmy were hugely animated, as was gravel-toned vocalist Will, and drummer Gareth had a huge smile plastered on his face for the entirety of the band’s hour-long performance. Part-way through the show, Will told the crowd that they had always dreamed of playing Scala, and the show clearly meant a lot to the band.
Hunter & The Bear’s music appeals to a wide audience due to its blend of classic rock with a folk twist and catchy pop hooks and the band played a brilliant set featuring tracks from their 2017 debut album Paper Heart (reviewed by Sheggs) as well as their latest single “Chemical” which was released last month. They also treated the crowd to some brand new tracks, which not only sounded excellent but slotted in well with the band’s existing body of work.
Hunter & the Bear will conclude their UK tour with sold out shows at Bodega in Nottingham on 12 October, and The Garage in Glasgow on 20th October.
** Apologies to drummer Gareth for there being very few decent shots of him – blame whoever was firing off the smoke machine with wild abandon throughout the first three songs of their set! **
Photos by Katie Frost
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