Brooklyn indie rockers Grizzly Bear deliver classic crowd pleasers as well as new hits at Albert Hall
Fans of Grizzly Bear have been hungry for a long, long time. It’s been both five years since they released their last album — 2012’s Shields — and played live in Manchester. The four-piece band from New York originally rose up the indie totem pole way back in 2009 with the now classic Veckatimest, of which their folktronica sound filtered into everything from car adverts to episodes of Skins. With the release of Painted Ruins earlier this year, fans have finally gotten something new to get their teeth into.
Grizzly Bear have always clearly been an extremely talented bunch and it’s a joy to see them recreating the magic of their albums live. Each member contributes to their often complex matrix of melodies and harmonies, weaving in and out of complimenting each of their stunning voices until you can’t tell them apart. Throughout the show, the band also hop on and off various instruments, with a wide range of synths, guitars, samplers, percussion, and woodwind instruments contributing to the noise.
Opening with an adequate but beautifully textured ‘Four Cypresses’, they follow it up with ‘Losing All Sense’, the rocky guitars give an extra edge and weight from the live setting. Their set continues to pull from their entire catalogue, but unsurprisingly it mostly services songs off the new album, with the brilliant climatic chorus of ‘Three Rings’ serving as the peak of the entire show.
Despite being the lead single from the album, ‘Morning Sound’ simply chugs along without much edge or passion from the band before slowly fizzling out. The contrast between this and earlier songs like ‘Yet Again’ is somewhat disheartening, as the rich complexity of their previous work just doesn’t seem to be present in most of their new work.
But it doesn’t entirely matter because they’re still playing loads of the old stuff. There’s always going to be songs you’ll be disappointed not to hear, but the sheer density of quality in Grizzly Bear’s oeuvre means that nearly every song manages to captivate the audience. Fans of Veckatimest will be happy with the — unavoidable — inclusion of their hits ‘Two weeks’ and ‘Ready, Able’, as well as ‘Fine For Now’ and the beautifully morbid ‘Foreground’.
Each is performed masterfully, just as you would expect from such a virtuoso band. As they begin to wrap up they turn to their slower songs, ending the main set with ‘While You Wait For The Others’ before returning to play ‘Shift’, an oldie off their 2004 debut Horn of Plenty, and finally closing with ‘Sun in Your Eyes’. With choices from a dynamic career like this, it’s hard to go wrong.
Albert Hall — Friday the 7th of October