Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, has never been known for its music scene. As a city conveniently placed in-between both Toronto and Montreal, artists have in the past rarely made the effort to make a stop (outside of the annual Blues Festival during the summer). However, there has been a gradual shift, albeit slow, for artists to bring their talents to Ottawa.
With that in mind, while on tour for their latest album ‘So That You Might Hear Me,’ British folk-rock band Bear’s Den made their first stop in Ottawa at the 27 Club. The venue itself was narrow, featuring a smaller sized stage that had fans tightly packing themselves to the front. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but thankfully it added to the intimacy of the night. And being Bear’s Den first time in Ottawa, they embraced the overall energy radiating from the fans in attendance, opening with ‘Fuel on the Fire’ from their latest album, followed by ‘Elysium’ from 2015’s ‘Islands.’
‘Fuel on the Fire’ showcased the vast improvements the band has made to their overall production quality and sound design. This is not to say that their previous material wasn’t good, but their refined sound resonated immensely. What followed the initial set of songs, including ‘Dew on the Vine,’ ‘Fossils’ and ‘Magdalene,’ are a set of moments that carried weight throughout their set. Bear’s Den expertly pulls the audience in with their soothing vocals, in large part thanks to lead vocalist Andrew Davie, gradually building in tempo until the climax.
This culminated in songs like ‘Isaac,’ ‘Sophie,’ and ‘Red Earth’ that truly stood out for its melody’s and instrumentals. In particular, drummer Kevin Jones performed exceptionally well, having several instances where he took over and stole the show. But as previously stated, Bear’s Den did well to create moments, in large part from a unique sound blending soft vocals with instances of heavy instrumentals. However, the moment that truly summarizes the intimate evening was the band’s decision to head out into the middle of the crowd with their instruments for the encore.
There’s something special about when an artist decides to break the barrier that divides themselves to the audience. With Bear’s Den, giving the audience an up-close performance as if the band were performing directly to them, left nothing but smiles. And when considering the narrow venue that might have restricted the view for many in the back, Bear’s Den provided a unique experience for their fans, making their first trip to Ottawa a memorable one.