It was Bob Mould who turned me onto Bear In Heaven. Somewhere he dropped the band’s name and I remembered the advance copy I had of their 2012 album, I Love You, It’s Cool that previously existed to collect dust on my desk.
Fast forward to last year and the Brooklyn three-piece had opened for British legends Wire at Lee’s Palace. Their textured waves of sound and the warm almost angelic vocals were a pop vs noise like Abba vs My Bloody Valentine that won me right over to the point I bought their discography at the merch table when they were done. Having recently released their excellent fourth album, Time Is Over One Day Old, it was time for the band to deliver me the headlining set I anticipated at the Horseshoe Saturday night.
Scheduled fellow Brooklynites Young Magic were scrubbed off the bill shortly after the doors opened due to problems at the border, so locals Absolutely Free, got to start half an hour later than scheduled and be the sole support. They played new stuff, they played old stuff. I have only recently even heard of them so I’m not sure how old the material was, but they were quite enjoyable despite the singer’s attempt to be heard playing his drum machine and not succeeding.
Bear in Heaven ambled on stage at midnight and proceeded to seduce the healthy throng attending. Opening with “Autumn” which opens the new album, it was hard to tell who the real star of the night actually was. Drums from Jason Nazary are so rapid and strong, at times it appeared strobe lights were affecting the appearance of his arm movements, which was not actually happening. Someone had even yelled out that he was the best drummer he had seen. Adam Wills was master of the guitar or bass, bathing the room with beautiful sounds while rocking an awesome porn-star moustache. And then there’s Jon Philpot, whose heavenly vocals evoke Roger Hodgson and manages the electronics, bass with an intense glare but also appeared to sing every lyric with the broadest grin.
It didn’t take long for the crowd to completely surrender, which is to say, by song 3, the epic “Sinful Nature” walls of noise pushed over the crowd and was the early highlight. Their 70 minute set touched on albums but their first. The bulk of the set was devoted to the new album with “You Don’t Need the World” and “Dissolve the Walls” be especially memorable. Biggest crowd reaction went to “Lovesick Teenagers” whose abrupt ending (intended) was the most painful part of the night.
By night’s end neither band nor crowd wanted to leave and Philpot declared it one of the best shows of the tour before offering up an encore. What this band could do in a live setting with a big budget could really be a great thing.
Thanks to Collective Concerts for media access.