Boy & Bear with Art of Sleeping and Montaigne
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, NSW
Friday 12th February, 2016
We hurried on a Friday night to the Hordern Pavilion to catch the Sydney leg of Boy & Bear’s Limit of Love tour. Unfortunately, we missed support act Montaigne but the praise heaped upon her from The Art of Sleeping and the guarantee of her amazing voice is testament to both a strong camaraderie on tour, and the real talent that we had missed. We’ll be tracking down Montaigne for sure.
We did manage to catch the majority of Brisbane 5-piece Art of Sleeping who filled the stage with confidence, man-bun styling and a considerable bit of alternative musical goodness. Man-bun aside, their set covered both new and old tracks and was punctuated by solid rhythmic openings, glorious sliding melodies and musical tones that seems to recreate the very sound of shining light. The audience had been growing throughout the set and the majority were seriously engaged with the show on stage. To round out their set, the boys played Crazy complete with bold opening solo, subsequent big sound all the time underpinned by a chilled piano melody paired with statement drums.
The main event arrived without too much fanfare, just the signature opening beats of Limit of Love infused with an upbeat vibe and the Boy & Bear guys owning the stage. Their title track performance set the tone for the rest of the show and had the audience ready to roll. The first noticeable feature of the show was the very high production standards, lighting, sound and transitions between songs was flawless and smooth. It’s those little elements that make a concert so much more enjoyable and are a sign of an excellent touring collective effort. The entire show was slick and inclusive of all the band members, each having their own moments, their own feature parts and at times, and even their own lighting states at times.
Stand outs included Bridges, Three Headed Woman, and Man Alone with the silence of the stage broken only by Hosking’s finger clicks. Seeing him commit his entire self to Old Town Blues showed just how the changes to the line up and the increased prevalence of his performing without an instrumented on the freedom to delve deep in to the song. All of the band members were playful and relaxed on stage, the obvious sign it’s been a good tour and everyone can play on stage in a fun way.
The night was full of moments. That moment when a whole crowd moves the same to a song. That moment when every pair of lips sang along to every word. That moment when everyone in the crowd gave genuine applause for the support acts when asked. That moment when the clap from the crowd grows to a point that unites stage and audience in to one musical creation.
There was a slick, cool, moody intro filled with hollow drum beats and a building echoey bass that was so atmospheric. The sheer clarity and quality of sound was evidence of an excellent sound tech I assume was travelling with them to achieve such great effects live on stage.
This is a band that has reached its stride and now has a career pace that they could maintain for the veritable marathon ahead. While their new stuff is developing a new sound and direction, their old stuff is just as open to new interpretation and appreciation. Their rendition of Rabbit Song was beautiful, with a slowed bridge the seems to hang in its own air only to roll and tumble down from the stage, out across the audience. The quality of this performance brought a whole new grace and beauty to a well known favourite.
Their now famed ‘Like a Version’ cover is a source of on stage jokes as they tease the audiences in each city that they won’t play it. Back to Black brought the phenomenal harmonies from their radio performance to the live stage and impresses, reminding us of their particularly tight brand of close harmonies.
All the big favourites stirred the crowd, but the rumbling bass of Feeding Line had the intensity in the pavilion escalate. An epic western-alt country style opening to Golden Jubilee had everyone wondering what was coming and was testiment that the band were really having fun with it, changing it up, breathing a new life in to the song we thought we knew.
By the time their back catalog had been thoroughly brought to the stage, punctuated by their new tracks from Limit of Love, it was nearing the end of a massive hour and a half set. Hosting pointed out that, from the very beginning, they are a band who never do encores. They usually make that announcement and then play two final songs, but tonight we were in for a treat with three.
Big twangy chords heralded the opening of Part Time Believer that went on to treat the crowd. The synth-pop vibe of Harlequin Dream countered the encore feel with their surprise sax player turning up on stage to play that interlude live! The announcement of last song rightfully drew huge applause as they broke in to a final song from their new album, Walk the Wire.
This wasn’t just a good concert, this was a great show, an entertainment form start to finish. A high quality production that will stay with audiences for a long time to come.
Photos from the set can be viewed on our Facebook page.