Eliza and the Bear – Garage, Glasgow – 16/4/16

1461242854_featured.jpegExploding on stage to ‘Light it Up’ it seemed as if tonight was going to be a shoe-in for upcoming indie rockers Eliza and the Bear.

Although the venue was at best half full, the assembled crowd were loving every minute. The sound mix was perfect, the playing on top-form, and the vocals exactly as they are meant to be.

However all did not seem to be as it should be by perhaps four or five songs in. There were a few odd statements from singer James Kellegher during the show which increasingly came across peculiarly. When thanking the support bands who played earlier, he stated that they must be bored of listening to the Eliza set, after all he knew he was. This in itself was most likely a flippant or ill-explained joke, but the crowd didn’t seem to laugh. A few songs later and we were introduced to an Ibiza rave interlude having discovered a new cool sound on Callie’s keyboard. This was pretty cool and mildly amusing. The problem was that it was funny the first time, but to repeat it a second time after one more song, even going to the effort of splitting the crowd into sides to “compete”. Yet not giving them the chance to sing off rather just stopping the music left the crowd bemused.

Even after James shouted, “This is Glasgow on a Saturday night. You’re supposed to be the best party. Let’s have it.”, the crowd still seemed flat for the most part. The front row loved the show, their hands were in the air throughout, but something overall felt jaded. Maybe James wasn’t kidding earlier when he said, “he was bored with their set”.

‘Lions Heart’ sounded great with the front two rows singing along. Before the last song of the main set James once again told everyone to go down to merch and buy their album, “because they need to eat for the next few years!” Not really a thank you for their support, or anything, just a “give us your money”. Regardless of the intro everyone seemed to slowly sway to ‘Cruel’ anyway, which was something I guess.

By total contrast the first encore, ‘It Gets Cold’, blasted the crowd in the face. The reaction was probably felt on the street outside the venue. This was where the band and crowd seemed as one, and the show felt consistent. The song ended with the crowd finishing the lyrics “I’m on my way back home” repeatedly even once the music stopped.

The encores served the purpose of proving the true anthems the band can write, with the last song being the inevitable ‘Friends’ (or “that one you know from the Bulmers advert” as James put it).

Maybe tonight’s lacklustre feel was just a case of road fatigue and a setlist consisting of much from a new album which the majority of the crowd didn’t know. Encore anthems aside it felt like nothing more than an OK gig. I’ve seen Eliza and the Bear on way better nights and I hope the next time lives up to that previous experience.

Gareth Fraser

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