Friday, 24 August 2012

Boy & Bear - Paradiso, 20 August 2012

I really, really want to love Boy & Bear.

They have all the pieces of something that I should love. What is there not to love about 5 extremely talented musicians, with great harmonies and from my home town? My sister first got me He Will Have His Way for Christmas in 2010 and I, like everyone else, fell in love with their version of Fall at Your Feet. And I bought Moonfire, their first full length album, as soon as it was released.

But that’s kind of where it ended for me. The album went on to win a swag of awards and the band have just got bigger and bigger. They have toured with Angus and Julia Stone, Laura Marling
andMumford & Sons and the last time they came through Amsterdam (a few months ago) they sold out Bitterzoet before I could even get a ticket. But try as I might, I have just never been able to get into the album. It’s not bad by any means, I just don’t love it.

So this was my final throw if the dice. Boy & Bear were back in Amsterdam and had been upgraded to the main stage at Paradiso. If this was ever going to happen, surely it was under the stained glass windows of my favourite venue?

Alberta Cross were the opening act and similar to Boy & Bear, this is a band I keep on hearing good things about. They have toured with Them Crooked Vultures, Oasis, Neil Young, The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Mumford & Sons, The Shins and Bat for Lashes to name but a few. Which puts Boy & Bear in some pretty good company.

Their set tonight was way too load, and not in a good way. They seem a tough band to put your finger on – part English, part Swedish, based in Brooklyn but sounding like Southern Rock. I don’t think this was their best night to be judged on, but it was good enough that I will invest some time in their new album.

Boy & Bear came on and they were everything I expected but not really what I wanted.

They had a good size crowd, although not a sellout and their sound, unlike Alberta Cross, was spot on. All 5 members of the band seem super talented, and as anticipated there were some really nice harmonies. They seemed to extend a lot of their album tracks and incorporate some good jams into the live versions of the songs.

The biggest reaction they got all night was when they played Fall at Your Feet and while it really is a great cover (I especially liked the little sample of Heart of Gold in the middle), I can’t help but wonder if it will come back to haunt them. To have a cover as your biggest song can become such a curse, just ask Evan Dando from the Lemonheads what he thinks of Mrs Robinson?

The worst part is they also seem like really nice guys and had a good rapport with the crowd. I really don’t have much bad to say at all – so not only do I not love them, I can’t even seem to hate them. And that’s my real problem right there. They are just falling through the cracks into the middle ground I like to call, alright.

What do you think of that band? They’re alright.

So it is time to move on to my next musical project and to leave Boy & Bear to bask in the glory of their thousands of dedicated fans, safe in the knowledge that don’t really care what I think.

Now, where did I put that Alberta Cross album?


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