When Bear’s Den’s Andrew Davie spoke with Lockeland on the road from Portland, Oregon, the main takeaway was how his band revels in their opportunity to play in front of US crowds. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Davie has done more than his fair share of grand tours throughout the UK and Europe, but relishes the chance to play in front of more “animated” American crowds.
All that to be said, when Bear’s Den made their Nashville stop at 3rd & Lindsley, Davie admitted the band had a few (all too familiar) trepidations in playing in front of a sold out Nashville crowd. During the latter half of their set, Davie took a moment to address the seeming lack of constant correspondence between Bear’s Den and their admirers – “Sorry we haven’t spoken that much. We get quote nervous about playing Nashville. We imagine everyone is a fantastic guitar player or the world’s best singer. And then you get us, and I couldn’t even turn the guitar channel on earlier.”
An obvious feat of self-deprecation, Davie’s verbalization of far too many touring acts’ fears of playing Nashville had at that point been rendered void, as virtually every song in Bear’s Den’s set was met with an ovation and/or sing along.
Following a superb opening set from Nashville-transplant Gill Landry, Bear’s Den kicked their set off with the titular track from their Red Earth & Pouring Rain release, but not without a twist. The band assumed the 3rd & Lindsley stage while The Terminator theme music permeated throughout the club. But once Bear’s Den took their places on stage, there was rarely a moment in which there wasn’t someone hooting or hollering, fully turning the Nashville stereotype on its head.
As referenced earlier, virtually every song had its own enthusiastic sing along, but older songs seemed to elicit the most enthusiasm out of all (as is typically the case). One song in particular – “Stubborn Beast” – featured a particularly excited audience member who had an apparent lack of tonality, but doubled such an impediment with ample spirit.
Following “Stubborn Beast” came another Bear’s Den deep cut, “Isaac,” and this time around, the crowd’s choral involvement truly was a thing of beauty – so much so that Andrew took a moment to compliment the audience at the song’s end. Naturally, the crowd was beside themselves to receive a compliment from someone with such naturally ethereal harmonic abilities.
There was many a memorable moment throughout Bear’s Den’s set, however the single most powerful moments had to have come during Andrew, Christoff, and Kevin’s brief respite from their electric setup by going sans-microphones. Almost instantaneously, 3rd & Lindsley was practically drenched in silence, bar for the few people that always feel the need to “shush” no one in particular.
Andrew led the band into an acoustic rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Steal You Away” that all but enraptured the sold out crowd. So much so, in fact that you could hear room temperature bottles of beer sinking deeper in the freshly packed icebox. The song itself is worthy of silencing masses in the best of ways, but there was one moment during the song that seemed particularly effective in moving members of the audience. The second stanza of the song’s second verse opens with “And I don’t want to touch you/If I can’t hold you in the day.” Good gravy, if you could have seen the countless numbers of shoulders slump and heavy exhalation upon Davie’s utterance of such a despondent lyric, you would have burst into melancholic tears. In my opinion, that moment was by far and away one of the most moving instances of song and spirit during a performance in recent memory, I mean, come on, that line is heavy all get out (or “heavy af” for all those using hip vernacular).
There were other moments worth recognizing, like Christoff’s failed bottle flip attempt and someone yelling what Davie called the “most British thing ever,” – upon hearing that the band would end their pre-encore set, someone yelled “You’re taking the piss. We know you’ve got to be taking a piss!” And indeed they were, as they performed “Pompeii” before heading into their brief respite and triumphant return for an encore.
With regard to the encore, one might go as far as calling it a “thing of beauty.” During Bear’s Den’s time spent on the road, the UK band has made fine attempts to ingratiate themselves to their respective audiences through their ongoing “Slammin’ Enormo'” cover series while on the road. Each stop features Bear’s Den covering a song unique to the area, and when it came to paying homage to Nashville, they chose none other than Ms. Dolly Parton herself. Bear’s Den gave their own take on “9 to 5” much to the exultation of the crowd.
As far as shows in town are concerned, or the proverbial “champions belt” of Nashville shows in 2017, Bear’s Den at 3rd & Lindsley is by far and away number one for that venue, and definitely a strong overall candidate, as well.