Grizzly Bear @ O2 ABC, Glasgow, 8 Oct

As tonight's show progresses, Grizzly Bear go from strength to strength and you'd be forgiven for any feelings of misty-eyed nostalgia

Live Review by Claire Francis | 12 Oct 2017
  • Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear have always – bar one or two hugely catchy indie-pop hits – centered their sound around songs that reveal themselves by degrees. Their layered compositions, which average upwards of five minutes in length, gradually unfurl like slowly blooming flowers. Back on the tour circuit with Painted Ruins (their first record in five years) the unhurried approach to both their new album and their slow-burning live show proves that very good things come to those who wait. 

Opening with the lush, dramatically unfolding Four Cypresses, this is classic Grizzly Bear – steady yet sumptuous; arrangements that are unexpected yet viscerally cohesive. Lengths of dark gauze are draped across the stage, and at first glance appear unremarkable until they catch the dramatic stage lighting, like lightning flashing in a cave. The bass starts out aggressively heavy in the mix – by Cut-Out, the sound balance has been restored and the show progresses from strength to strength.

Grizzly Bear are a group of exceptionally skilled musicians. Drummer Christopher Bear's kit is positioned to the right rather than the rear of stage, showcasing his remarkable percussive talents up front. With Sleeping Ute, the band visibly change gears, propelled by Bear's dramatic time-keeping. Slipping seamlessly into the synthesised, beat-driven Mourning Sound, they follow with the euphoric Two Weeks. By the time they reach the Beatles-esque The Knife, you'd be forgiven for any feelings of misty-eyed nostalgia.

Obligingly they reappear for an encore – "Surprise!" jokes frontman Ed Droste, before mock-sighing at the predictability, "Oh, encores..." He introduces Shift as "the oldest song from tonight's set," reaching all the way back to Droste's (predominantely solo) Grizzly Bear debut Horn of Plenty. Closing out with the crashing keys of Sun in Your Eyes, the lyrics 'so bright, so long / I'm never coming back' echo in defiance of Grizzly Bear's enduring, recurring appeal.

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