There is something overwhelming about Grizzly Bear, something all-absorbing. Since first seeing them at the Roundhouse almost three years ago, and being swept away by them then, I have been waiting for another chance. Shields is an astonishing album and expectations couldn’t have been higher for the Warwick (read Coventry) show where it and other material were to be showcased.
Super early, merch bought and stowed, the Peeblemeister and I claimed our choice place by the barrier, positioned right in front of Chris Talyor’s spot on stage, as requested by the Peeblemeister. What a place to have chosen – Mr Taylor was a show all in his own right, jumping from his gorgeous and filthy, fat sounding vintage Rickenbacker, to flute, clarinet and sax and putting it all through his tangle of technology pedal board that my companion knew all about as if he had built it with his own fair hands. Some truly wonderful sounds, none finer than the clarinet via his bass pedals that ripped at your throat and chest like the roar of a caged mythical beast.
If truth be told you could watch the whole show just fixed on any one of these remarkable musicians such is their virtuosity – Daniel Rossens guitar is of course legend, the drum work of Chris Bear remarkable and fine, Ed Drost’s vocals sounding as fine as ever they have and newbie Aaron Arntz fluent behind him array of keys. Not for the first time I find myself unable to capture in words the feeling and impact of music that seems to run so deep in me – music and a show that goes to that special ‘box’ of wondrous things. Heaven with the lid off.
The set list (blagged by the Peeblemeister of course) was pretty much what it seems to have been the whole tour, and none the worse for that, almost impossible to pull particular highlights, so mesmeric was the whole kit and caboodle although the opening and closing trios of Speak in Rounds/Adelma/Sleeping Ute (with the entry of the rising and falling Jelly Fish) and Two Weeks/Half Gate/Sun in Your Eyes were peerless book ends to a riveting and wholly absorbing two hours.
As if this weren’t enough the ‘support’ for the evening was the entirely wonderful Villagers whose first album Becoming a Jackal also has a place in my special box. Seen a couple of times including a great show in Bristol at The Trinity Centre I knew of Conor O’Brien’s prodigious talent and his remarkable live performance. Opening with a personal favourite, Let the Tygers Free, the (too short) set included some from the first album but also a good few from the new album, Awayland, due for release in January through Domino and available for pre-order on their site.
If the live version of new songs like The Bell (magnificent), the single The Waves, Passing a Message and Nothing Arrived are typical, it will be another magical album and I cant wait for some headline shows to support it.
An entirely perfect musical evening, I could relive it over and over, this is what its all about, music that lifts you clear of the fug of the daily grind, etched for ever in your memory. And so down the A46 to home and too little sleep, wallet empty (thanks to the merch) but head full of soaring music.
Btw – a collection of good, bad and indifferent pix here