From humble beginnings, practising in a soundproofed shipping container in a dingy London car park, Hunter And The Bear have gone from strength to strength. Releasing their debut album, ‘Paper Heart’, in May this year, making fans all over the country – particularly after their remarkable stint supporting Eric Clapton during his 2014 UK tour. Tonight feels like another step towards an unstoppable rise to stardom, as these fledgling rock legends play to a sold out crowd in Glasgow’s magnificent Oran Mor.
No doubt this crowd were expecting something special tonight, but the first song of the evening really raises the bar, as the four piece smash through a relentless version of their punchy call to arms, ‘Who’s Gonna Hear You’. Frontman Will Irvine looks like he was born to rock, wielding his sparkly black guitar like an extension of himself. Meanwhile, lead guitarist Jimmy Hunter, and bassist Chris Clark, seem to compete to see who can deliver the most impressive hairy headbang. Fan favourites, ‘Paper Heart and ‘Renegade’, stimulate raucous cries from the audience, who are trying their best to match Irvine and Co.’s lively performance. Hints of a Biffy Clyro influence creep into the fist-pumping ‘You Can Talk’, which has the packed venue echoing the chorus back to the boys on stage. Hunter And The Bear’s perseverance to be “the best live band on the planet” is as intoxicating as it is astounding – they make the most of every second they have on that stage, and they’ll make damn sure you remember their name.
To call Hunter And The Bear ‘powerful’ seems like the understatement of the year, as it’s hard not to get swept up in the raw energy these four lads bring to the table. They are genuinely like a hurricane on legs. They hold their fantastically diverse audience in the palm of their hand – from teeny boppers to granny boppers, flamboyant hipster types to fully-tatted bad bastards. Even my 62-year-old dad couldn’t help having a good old knees up. They play every gig like it’s their last, and tonight was a phenomenal example of a band with an indomitable spirit to succeed. “One day you’ll find us selling out the Hydro,” claims Irvine; and you can tell that he believes every word of it. The new single, ‘Skin Tight’, which is currently #2 on the iTunes rock charts, is given a thoroughly deserved reception, as they pour every ounce of passion into their performance, veins popping out of their necks as they scream over the crowd. Their final song, ‘Nickajack’, receives the loudest cheer of the night, as Hunter And The Bear do the impossible, and raise the energy levels yet again. It’s a moving, thunderous track that absolutely tears the roof off the Oran Mor. Brilliant stuff.
Go see Hunter and the Bear, and you’re guaranteed at least three things: ringing ears, a hoarse throat, and a bloody good time.
PS: Congratulations to the future Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin; Gary and Kirsty! Got to love an on stage proposal!
Review: Fraser Doig
Images: Callum Scott