London’s folk-rock trio Bear’s Den was a late addition to the Americana Music festival, stepping up as Thursday night’s “surprise” at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge when the original scheduled artist was forced to cancel.
“We weren’t really supposed to be tonight’s special guest — we are just filling in,” noted banjoist/guitarist Joey Haynes.
With their rich instrumentation, sincere lyrics and three-part hooky harmonies, it didn’t take long for Bear’s Den to win over the Music City crowd, opening with the beautiful and endearing title track to their debut EP, Agape.
It was “Pompeii” and “Mother,” with their heartbreaking stories about family, that left one man up in the front row shaking his head in wonder before exclaiming, “Holy Cow!”
Lead vocalist/guitarist Andrew Davie plucked a few quiet notes on his acoustic guitar to start off “Pompeii,” a tale of a father and son dealing with the loss of their wife and mother. The song slowly builds with percussionist Kevin Jones switching over to bass and lastly, an extended banjo solo to lead into its final, hopeful refrain:
“Don’t cry, hold your head up, she would want you to, she would want you to.”
Later, Haynes leveraged his pedal board to eek atmospheric and ambient sounds out of his Gretsch electric guitar for the intro to “Sahara,” a new and haunting ballad that will appear on October’s upcoming EP, Without/Within.
Bear’s Den has really captured the minds and hearts of audiences around the world, having come up in the same London scene that spawned Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling. It is fitting, then, that Bear’s Den has played several shows in support of Mumford and Sons in recent months, gaining buzz as they’ve gone along.
Bear’s Den has a headlining tour of Europe in November, and with many of the dates already sold out, tickets are obviously in high demand.
Judging from Thursday night’s showing at the Mercy Lounge, it is a fitting classification.
“Don’t Let the Sun”
“Writing on the Wall”