We suspect our first glimpse of Eliza and The Bear was outside of Cavern as we were queuing up, followed by a large crowd of buzzing groupies. I say suspect, as by the time we had realised that something exciting was happening the leaders were far in front and obscured by the bobbing heads following them. Our second sighting would be a lot more successful. On entering the Cavern, we were hit by the usual chill vibe that accompanies a night in Exeter’s edgiest venue, and enjoyed the pre-show informality as the fans sat amongst the supporting bands, Rocky Nti and Slowlights, enjoying a pint. We hoped that Eliza and the Bear would be able to fill this intimate scene with personality and great music like so many bands before them, and such banter and music was indeed delivered from the very start of the night.
If you’ve not heard of Eliza and the Bear before, you may have still been exposed to the indie pop band’s up-beat music already, such as their track ‘Friends’ which featured in the 2014 Bulmer’s advert (“I’ve got friends, I’ve got family here”- not the most profound lyrics ever but still very catchy). Many of you will have remembered this iconic line and caught yourselves singing it days later, and why wouldn’t you? Eliza and the Bear’s coupling of lyrics that are applicable to most people and situations with addictive guitar rifts will make it hard for you to not remember their songs; we couldn’t get enough of their charisma.
This charisma was constant throughout their set. They began with “Lion’s Heart”, and instigated clapping to involve the audience straight away- we more than willingly obliged. They gradually merged chords into those for “Light It Up”, and the crowd went crazy; Eliza’s lyrics connect so much with their audiences, particularly young people who are trying to find themselves and cast off the “weight of the world” from their shoulders. The following songs the band played included “Upon The North” (where I live according to Exeter geography), “Where Have You Been?” and “Brother’s Boat”.
After these opening songs came an interlude where Eliza opened up to us, with most of the talking done by lead singer, James Kellegher, who seemed to be a really funny, humble guy (as far as we could tell from his chatting during the concert and our brief meeting afterwards). James divulged to us that they had in fact played at Cavern 2 years before, however it had been a lot emptier that time, and, as he said with a smile on his face, they were “really quite sh*t”. One of the guitarists then retorted back that he could speak for himself, and the jokes were flowing in no time between the band members, stage crew and audience. A particular highlight was the introduction of Fraz (I think that was the general consensus on his name), the guitar technician, who was there working on his first gig and so the crowd chanted his name in support at various intervals; the band instigated it to make him feel part of the incredible night, and it certainly appeared to pay off as when he acted up to his new status, the fans again went wild. Thanks to the band, Fraz became a legend in Exeter that night.
The last songs of the night included the band’s new song “Cruel”, which featured some beautiful, soaring high notes at the top of James’ range, and lyrics which will tear at your heart strings. “Talk” also made it onto the set list, followed by the ‘last’ song of the night, and my current favourite, “Make It On My Own”, which I’ve linked here. Luckily for us, Eliza and the Bear performed the most famous of their songs in the encore: ”Friends”, as previously mentioned from the Bulmer’s advert, and “It Gets Cold”, or “the one you’ve probably heard on Radio 1”, both of which deserve a listen.
Take a listen to Eliza and the Bear and I can guarantee you’ll soon be hooked on their down to earth lyrics, vibrant music and feel good, ‘I can do anything’ vibe. I know I am.