Photo Credit: Leopallooza9
Cavern was buzzing to the sound of a sold out show. Walking in shortly after doors opened, it was already nicely filling up. One opening act was already on stage, performing strongly and to a fairly large audience. The rest of the venue was occupied by people of all varieties sitting, standing, drinking and talking. It was a really pleasant atmosphere and reminds me of how universal Eliza And The Bear’s music really is to have pulled in such a range of ages and styles, students and locals alike.
Both opening acts gave professional sets, albeit arguably forgettable. It wasn’t until the roadie for Eliza And The Bear (who turned out to be the star of the show) climbed atop the stage, that the crowd fully assembled and began a more excited state of chatter in anticipation. The band appeared, and shot straight into their set, filling Cavern with their indie-rock tunes. If one complaint were to be made of the night, it would be that whilst the instruments were all very well balanced, it often seemed to blend into a merged wall of noise, with it being difficult to distinguish each player’s parts. Even this criticism could be unfounded however, as this style of sound engineering in fact lent itself very well to the persistence of sing-alongability in the band’s songs. It didn’t matter that half the crowd’s impression of singing probably sounded like a lower division football chant, because everyone’s voices simply joined the anthemic sonic wave.
My friend made quite the accurate observation of the band, in that one of the best aspects is how immersed in the performance they get. With such prominent pop sensibilities, it would be easy to dismiss Eliza And The Bear as commercialised money-grabbers; in fact something felt very genuine about their performance. In particular lead vocalist James Kellegher seemed to believe the lyrics he sang – an underrated necessity in music in my opinion. His apparent passion was only outdone by the bassist, who, despite remaining seated for most of the show, gave a masterclass in headbanging.
They were a band without pretence, and showed a healthy level of humility, asking who had seen them at their last Exeter show two years ago; when the crowd were silent Kellegher simply retorted, “Don’t worry, we were really shit then anyway. Really shit”. Further to this, Kellegher called out the ridiculousness of pretending to go off stage only to run back on for an encore, and so pre-warned the crowd that they would only come back on if their roadie, Fraz, got a loud enough chant. He did, and so back on stage the band scurried to play their fan favourites “That song you heard on the Bulmer’s advert”, Friends, and It Gets Cold. The band thanked the crowd, and walked off stage to another round of gradually decaying Fraz chants, alas to no avail this time.