Monday, 3 December 2012

Grizzly Bear - Paradiso, 5 November 2012

Would this show be as powerful as the almighty Grizzly, attacking an unsuspecting punter, or would I just have to grin and Bear it?

All puns aside, it was actually more like a Night at the Opera.

I seem to be going through a run of bands who live in/have lived in/have members from/and/or recorded in - Brooklyn. This evening’s gig is no different, and yes it was another sell out show to boot.

Grizzly Bear are an Indie rock band, formed in 2002 in Brooklyn, New York, which appears to be somewhat of an artistic hub over the last decade or so.

This is a band that I have never fallen in love with, even whilst several of my good friends have. On top of that, when Johnny Greenwood (of Radiohead fame) declared that Grizzly Bear were his favorite band (well at one particular point in time at least), then maybe it was time to stop and have a proper listen.

With four albums under their belt, TV and movie soundtrack appearances and some impressive support slots, it is fair to say that this band is at the heady heights of Indie Rock status.

The first surprise of the evening occurred as I arrived. The support band who had just started and I could hear playing as I entered the venue, was The Villagers. I have listened to these guys for a while now and their album “Becoming the Jackal” was one of my most highly played a couple of years back.

This really felt like it set the tone for the rest of the evening’s festivities, their set was faultless and I couldn’t have wanted more out of a support band. Last time I saw them at the Paradiso they were the main act and so this time they had to play as the room filled. But they did it without batting an eyelid, as I guess you might if you were on tour with one of the Indie rock music darlings, such as Grizzly Bear.

To the main show and the words that I can’t get out of my head to describe the music, are Rock Opera. GB music is exactly like what I would expect to hear in a modern day rock opera. Ok, so maybe they haven’t done one yet, and maybe they never will, but the reality of their music is that it is so layered and has some rather complex moments that it would really suit that style.

In typical Indie musician style, most of the boys on stage played several instruments and all of them appeared highly proficient. None more so than Chris Taylor, the bassist who played bass, flute, clarinet and the saxophone over the course of the evening.

The greatest disappointment of the evening came when Chris Bear on drums came out on stage and he was not actually the size of a grizzly bear. Once I was able to get over that point, he was actually a very good drummer, in amongst a technically brilliant group of performers.

Walking away I do reflect on the fact that some of tonight’s gig really did blow me away, but not the entire show. And I put a lot of that down to not knowing all four albums well enough, and for that I kick myself.

What I did notice was the songs that I didn’t know as well, and that I may have not been totally engrossed in straight off the bat, I did find myself getting more and more into it as the song progressed. Even to the point that by the end of the song I would be enjoying it so much I was not wanting the song to end.

I think they are kind of an acquired taste, and I really don’t know how many of my friends what weren’t totally into Indie style tunes could handle a complete evening of these guys. But I think that this is a type of music that when you give yourself total emersion into it, then you really can fall in love with it….. And if you can add a small nod of your head, stare at your shoes occasionally and can handle at least 17 songs of similar ilk (including encore), then this is the show for you!

2012 has been the year of the ‘no encore’, and I really thought that tonight could easily be another one to add to the growing tally. But alas the band conformed to normal etiquette and strolled back out for one encore of three songs. The first of which may have been my favorite of the nigh - “Two Weeks”. This (as earlier mentioned) is a builder, and by the end the place was cooking. The set was rounded out with a beautiful acoustic version of “Sun in your eyes” which received rapturous applause from all in the venue as the bands descended into the bowls of the Paradasio for hopefully a well earned break as they head out of Europe at the end of this stint of the tour.


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