Who: Boy and Bear – Supported by: Tin Sparrow, The Jungle Giants
When: Friday, 8 June 2012
Where: The Tivoli, Brisbane
The last time I saw Boy and Bear, was at Splendour in the Grass in 2011. I was so excited I elbowed the poor unsuspecting guy next to me, in the head. So when my editor asked me to review their sold out show at the Tivoli in Brisbane on Friday night, it was a done deal.
Support act, indie-pop quartet The Jungle Giants were playing as we arrived. As another Brisbane-spawned gem found on the Triple J ‘Unearthed’ website, I was interested to see how they rated as a live act. Their first song I heard them play was reminiscent of early Snow Patrol, but less dour. They’re full of energy on stage, with the lead guitarist hurtling himself, and his guitar all over the stage, curly mop of hair and oversized button up shirt flying.
The Jungle Giants have a cheerful, clean live sound. They can play their instruments and clearly love doing so. Their final song was “Mr Polite”, from their soon to be released debut EP, which has been getting a fair bit of radio play. To me, it sounds very much like the Last Dinosaurs, but in my view, comparisons are understandable considering both bands can probably be grouped together in the same geek-kid, enthusiastic, my-heart’s-never-been-broken, genre. They’re fun, I like them.
Enter Boy and Bear, to the sounds of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”. The only similarity between AC/DC and Boy and Bear was the skin-tight trousers worn by lead singer Dave Hosking. I think I actually saw a few girls up the front swoon. All superficial comments aside, on to their music….
They opened with “Rabbit Song”, the urgent strumming in the riff sending a shiver through the crowd. Boy and Bear are (I think) traditionalists when it comes to the best aspects of Australian culture. Don’t scoff when I mention Australian and culture in the same sentence. We are, and always have been storytellers and yarn spinners, and this is what this band does so well. The second song of the night, “Lordy May” is testament to Boy and Bear’s story telling abilities and is all wistful guitar and a drum beat that goes to your heart.
Before launching into “Milk and Sticks (or “Beer and Skittles”, according to their prank-playing roadie), Hosking told us that the Tivoli is his favourite venue. Everyone from Belle and Sebastian to Nick Cave has told me that when I’ve been in the audience, so it must be true. It’s easy to tell, watching them play, that this band loves playing their music in front of an audience. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was their first gig, instead of being smack bang in the midst of a long national tour; such is their clear love for playing live.
Next was “My Only One” which to me always sounds like a song of apology, or regret, but there was a lot of love in the room when it was playing.
We were treated to a few new songs, one of them being “3 Headed Woman”. The keyboard and the snare drum give it a bit of a jazz undertone, but the lead guitar on this track is definitely solid American-influenced rock ‘n roll, and the lyrics are about a woman giving a man trouble. That ‘ole chestnut.
I love Boy and Bear’s cover of Crowded House’s “Fall at Your Feet”. I am only human, after all. The rest of the country loves it as well, and as much as the band probably would prefer to be known for their original songs (which, on the whole, they are) the crowd on Friday night probably wouldn’t have been happy without hearing it. So, it was duly played, and duly adored - then the 12-string guitar came out and Hosking and the boys rocked “Part Time Believer”. Amazing.
They then played another new track, “Boxer”. My friend wasn’t a fan, but I really got into it. It’s pretty much true to Boy and Bear’s unmistakable sound, and radio will like it.
“Beach” was played next. I can’t even tell you what the rest of the crowd thought, I was fairly mesmerised. This song was pretty powerful played live, and really drew me in with its haunting intensity.
Boy and Bear, if anything, know how to arrange their song progression and leave the audience wanting more. We were treated to “Feeding Line”, “Big Man” and “Mexican Mavis” all in a row. By this stage, I thought the guy bouncing up and down in front of me with excitement was going to keel over from exhaustion. The band explained that they don’t really do encores. So that’s cool, they kind of did a mini encore by turning down the lights for 15 seconds, before launching in to their final tune of the night “Golden Jubilee”. The crowd was a little bit in love. I could tell. Success, Boy and Bear.
Yvette Abberfield - AAA Backstage