Excited doesn’t cut it for how I felt as I made my way to the Bodega for what I’m certain was the last chance to hear Eliza and the Bear play such an intimate venue as their stellar upward trajectory continues.
The evening started gently as Michael Cassidy opened with some stunning Scottish acoustics, from the sombre These Hands building up to faster, more upbeat songs Battleships and Fifteen Years from his debut album My Electric Heart.
It had been easy to take a place in the second row, just behind the super fans, one of whom was seeing Eliza and The Bear for a phenomenal eighth time, but as I looked behind me now the room had already filled in time for Into the Ark, the duo of Dane Lloyd and Taylor Jones to transport us to the green, green valleys of South Wales with a fantastic, soulful (if slightly shakey at first) set building up to crowd favourite, The Right Track.
As the lights dimmed you could feel the anticipation buzz through the room. Eliza and The Bear took to the stage as the suspenseful intro music climaxed – a pause – and then they burst into action, belting out Lion’s Heart at the top of their lungs, leaping and headbanging all over the stage to cheers from the crowd.
The energy with which they began the night showed no signs of fading as the night wore on, but only increased as they ripped through fan favourites like Light it Up and Brother’s Boat, while newer tracks Cruel and Oxygen spell out very promising things for their upcoming debut album.
The night was wrapping up far too soon as front man James Kellegher announced that encores are too pretentious so they don’t do them. Instead, after the dying notes of Make It On My Own, the band walked off stage until the crowd chanted loud enough to draw them back on stage for the last two songs of their set.
Call it what you want, the end of the set certainly didn’t disappoint and the crowd burst into life as Eliza and the Bear finished with Friends and It Gets Cold, fading out to leave their fans to echo the very last refrain of the night “I’m on my way, I’m on my way back home”