Hunter & the Bear – Oran Mor, 22/11/17 - Gav Dron Review

There was something in the air in Oran Mor last Wednesday night. Maybe it was the feelings of excitement and anticipation that come with seeing fresh, emerging bands; or perhaps the smugness of being ahead of the curve. Whatever it was, you could feel the energy of the sold-out crowd waiting eagerly for Hunter & the Bear to take the stage. Love was also in the air and it was obviously too much for one young couple, with an on-stage proposal just before the band came out. She said “yes”, he smiled, the crowd cheered. Lovely.

2017 has been a big year for the guys with the release and subsequent tour of their debut album, Paper Heart, following on from 2015’s EP, Wildfire. Although they’re not quite a household name, they have released a slew of catchy singles which have gained radio plays and advert appearances and you might be surprised how many of their songs you recognise for a band you’ve never heard of.

The show was entertaining from start to finish; although I have to admit that by the half-way point all of their songs were beginning to sound the same to me. Each one starts uniquely and shows a different influence (I heard Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and Metallica) but soon default to the same formula. Despite this, they delivered a very polished performance which belied the fact that they are only touring their debut album; playing with a confidence and swagger which you would expect to see from an established band’s third or fourth album. They have clearly spent a long time (the band first formed as a duo in 2012 before adding the rhythm section) honing their style and sculpting their tracks into near-perfection. Their crowd interaction was great and it was nice to see the guys sitting at the merch stand to meet fans and give autographs almost immediately after coming off stage.

I am interested to see where they go from here, and whether they have enough creative diversity to keep releasing interesting records. I hope they continue to build on their success and follow-up with an equally strong second album, in which case they could make a serious impression on the UK music scene. Their style of super catchy, safe, chart-friendly rock could win them legions of fans in the middle ground, but will probably fail to excite any die-hard music fans. For now we will have to wait, but if you have the chance you should definitely catch them in their ascendancy when they tour again next year.