Boy & Bear @ The Forum Theatre 18/5/12
May 20, 2012
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I really respect Boy & Bear. Since they’re EP With Emperor Antarctica, their rise has been nothing short of meteoric, all the while playing songs that maintain their folkish charm. It does help that they play a very popular style, with obvious similarities to favourites Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes, but to sell-out The Forum Theatre twice in one week is quite an achievement.It was a bit of a mixed crowd for their performance. A few well-weathered fans smattered in the middle of a mass of your now common Triple J inspired alternative bogans, a sub-culture that is now driving the music industry in Australia.
For a group has always seemed a bit stand-offish in their live show. This set was really a coming of age. Lead singer and guitarist Dave Hosking is a very reluctant rock-star, and remains more comfortable in the musical aspect, rather than in the banter with the adoring throng of teenage girls at his feet. But starting with a reworked opening to Rabbit Song, Hosking seems right at home. I’d actually forgotten just how much I love this song, and couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed at the limited reaction from the crowd. Milk & Sticks inspired the first real dance early on in the set, as it became apparent that the majority of the crowd were more comfortable with Moonfire tracks.
With attention turning to the future, the group played a couple of new tracks. Three Headed Woman is a slower ballad, while the second track, I think was called Boxer, and is a potential single for the next album, with a bit more energy when compared to Three Headed Woman. Needless to say, both would fit seamlessly into the Boy & Bear catalogue. This two tracks were split by the now cult-favourite cover version of Crowded House’s Fall At Your Feet. While cleverly reworked with a sampling for Neil Young’s Heart of Gold in the middle, I’m of the opinion that the band would be better served by dropping this from their set. I admit that it is a particularly special cover, but I feel if they wish to establish credibility, they should focus on their own songs. It’s not like they’re not good enough songwriters to begin with, and the continue flogging of Fall at Your Feet I believe shows a lack of confidence in their own abilities.
This can be seen by the rather glorious finish to their set. Feeding Line and Big Man got a great reception from the crowd, as was to be expected. However, it was the last two songs that really impressed me. Mexican Mavis got a well deserved rendition, before Golden Jubilee brought it home. With the band stating that there was to be no encore, again not particularly surprising due to their limited back catalogue, I thought this tied up the set pretty perfectly. I was pretty content with the performance, and the group really seemed to have matured in their few short years on tour.