For the second time this tour no less. Eek.
They are my bears. Or ‘Dere’s Ben’ as we call them in our house.
They are just incredible. They are two such normal, everyday blokes who are just damn good at the tunes and getting this lady bouncing or belting out the songs like I just don’t care.
Kev (left) is one of these musical genius’ that can just pick up an instrument and learn to play it within a few hours. Oh, to have that talent (and to be able to sing in tune).
I actually preferred the set list they played on the first gig as they did quite a few slower ones this time and tried some new stuff out, but it was still a cracking do. I cannot be deterred from my love of these bears.
So, who are they?
For anyone that has never heard of them they are a folk-rock band, often taking inspiration from the rock music of the 70s and 80s. With added synthesisers and trumpets playing a big part in building up the melodies and suspension.
They don’t do the soppy romance and love songs, instead writing about human existence, folk tales, life experience and lost (and found) connections. They do sing about relationships, but they are not your usual fare – they are about relationships in another time and place, about having a higher connection to someone, or the frailty of human connections.
There’s an intimacy about Bear’s Den’s music that cuts deeper than most. Lead singer and songwriter Andrew Davie tends to avoid the well-traveled roads of love and romance; his introspective lyrics dive far below the surface, exploring the intricacies of human experience and the relationships that lie within.” Atwood magazine
The thing that gets me with their music is that their songs are so full of hope. And emotion. And sometimes just pure despair, or longing for another time and place. I am captivated by the way their songs evolve, the stories they tell and how often a couple of minutes in, they build to a crescendo raw with emotion, before calming down again. Almost leaving you hanging.
The interesting thing about a lot of their music is that they don’t actually tell each other what the song is actually about, they very much lock this away inside and keep the other guessing. They often don’t want to know, as it helps them to then express it in their own interpretation when performing. The reason behind some lyrics has finally been revealed in their new podcast ‘So that you Might Hear Me’, and it really is great to hear their different interpretations of what they think the other had written about.
And there are certainly many things I can relate to in Davie’s recounting of his writing methods:
“I don’t really know what I’m going to write about when I sit down and write stuff. I just sit there for long enough, and constantly try and write something that feels right… When the time did come to…just sit down and write, it was the amalgamation of about a year’s worth of just sort of mutterings to myself, and writing down little things, notes on my phone…”
Davie, Bear’s Den
Not that I mutter to myself.
Where to start.
If you want to have a listen and don’t know where to start, some of my favourites are as follows.
Auld Wives – A song in which loneliness and pain sears through, based upon the folk tales of the Auld Wives rock formation near Glasgow. There is an element of hope and desperation, yet it is carried along by quite an uplifting, fast paced bass provided by the guitars. Every time I listen to this it almost trances me.
But I swam across the ocean to find your memory
A trace of all that you’ve left behind
And the auld wives swore that you were born to die
Without a child for to call out your name
Above The Clouds of Pompeii – Listen to it build three minutes in. Just listen. The banjo, the lyrics, then that trumpet. And watch this on YouTube with the video. So beautiful. When you see them live this song just washes over you like a tidal wave. It is so, so beautiful.
You took me walking through the town
Showed me the statues underground
Said just don’t they look in peace
Sometimes I wish that was me
Hiding Bottles – Written by Andrew after their previous tour, this song is a reflection that he could see himself heading towards alcoholism from the pressure. He had started hiding his drinking and the evidence of it, hence hiding bottles. Luckily he realised and picked himself up. The result is this marvellously honest track.
Think I hear what you’re saying
Think I need a drink
Well I’m keeping it together, but you don’t know the half of it
It’s starting to show, no I’m not on top of this
Red Earth and Pouring Rain – The title track off their second album and it was the first song that was quite a departure from what they had done before. The song is based on an old Tamil poem (below) that Andrew found in a hotel room in India that he felt summed up exactly what he was looking for at that time.
What could my mother be to yours?
What kin is my father to yours anyway?
And how did you and I meet ever?
But in love our hearts were as red earth and pouring rain
Dew on the Vine – This was not one of my favourites initially, until I heard it live and something clicked. It is always early in the set list and a great one for picking up some pace.
Though the morning light will burn away
All the fog the night creates,
There’ll still be a trace of our love left behind
In the dew upon the vine
Elysium – I always forget this is one of my faves. Then I listen and 1:34 hits. That trumpet. Those lyrics about hope, asking the universe for an answer, the darkness of the night. There is a reason this is a firm favourite with so many fans, it is just so relatable.
All that you see
Don’t let bitterness become you
They need to be pumped out full volume. A great band for belting out in the car.
Let me know what you think. I hope you love them as much as I do.
Write 52: Week 21
Theme: A few of my favourite things