Bears Den @ o2 Institute 4 November 2019

Is it irony or just filthy karma when your support band is called Flyte and they miss their flight..? Whatever fates purpose, Christoph Van der Ven was a last minute stand in for them and opened the evening on solo guitar. The crowd liked him.  He was later joined by keyboards, trumpet, and proved to be a solid and well received stand in, albeit from Bears Den’s session musicians. But this crowd knows what it likes.

Then came the real deal, no stand in’s here, only authentic quality Bears Den. The o2 Institute is packed, a mature crowd, singing along with every word. These are true fans, respecting the quiet moments, taking in every beat. Bears Den sound CD quality good, this is the kind of sound you come to a gig dreaming to hear and these guys absolutely delivered. It was awesome to hear such quality music live. 

We were privileged to be only the second ever audience to hear Crow live. They played some songs off the new winter EP, Only Son of the Falling Snow, which was said to remind you of a Christmas Carol and visiting your childhood house and wonder ‘where did it all go wrong?’, a lovely acoustic number accompanied by trumpets and a quiet tap of the kick drum.

Star of Bethnal Green was introduced with a story of its origin: writing the song at a recording studio which was mistakenly tagged on a band member’s phone as the pub they subsequently visited, a story which was met with great enthusiasm and approval from the crowd! The English do love their pubs!

Gabriel was played unplugged, no microphones, no amps, just ukuleles, guitars and a trumpet. The audience received this with sweet silent delight. Who needs electricity, hey?

Next the tempo picks up and the fan favourites start. Bears Den have such a depth to their sound. Their layered vocals are perfectly harmonised, and the guitars and ukuleles interact and feed from each other: these guys truly love what they do.

These guys are so great at what they do, too good maybe to save the best till last. Maybe their next tour they will include the likes of Pompeii and Agape in the main set rather than the encore.

But if I know one way to measure the awesomeness of a band that is this: do they have their own hot sauce? Bears Den sure do! That makes them instantly badass, so I can confidently say future success levels are tongue burningly guaranteed.


Only Son of the Falling Snow
Star of Bethnal Green
Gabriel (off mic)
Love We Stole
Red Earth
When You Break
Auld Wives
Laurel Wreath

Blankets (in crowd)

Review and Photographs: Marc Osborne

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