Reviewed onFriday February 12 (photo by Ashley Mar)
It may come as a bit of a surprise, but this was Dave Hosking’s first time inside the Hordern Pavilion. The frontman of indie-folk darlings Boy & Bear had admitted that in the lead-up to the second-last show on their biggest Australian tour to date, he drove past the venue many times to check out their poster. But yes, it was the first time he’d walked through the doors, and this barely disguised excitement was nothing short of infectious.
Sydney singer-songwriter Montaigne opened the show. With a whole lot of energy and heart, the 2012 Unearthed finalist soon had the crowd suitably wowed with her spellbinding vocals and alt-pop melodies.
Voodoo-peddlers Art Of Sleeping were up next. Playing tunes from their debut album Shake Shiver and EP Like A Thief, it was clear they were just plain thrilled to be there. Their dreamy indie-pop gems soon had listeners crowding the front of stage.
Boy & Bear then arrived with an extended, groove-tastic version of their cowbell-powered ‘Limit Of Love’. It was a huge, dynamic performance of the title track from their third album, and it set the tone for the night. Teenage and middle-aged onlookers alike were instantly moving and shaking. The next hour and a half was filled with a stellar, not to mention punctual set, in which they smashed out tracks from across their discography. An early highlight was ‘Rabbit Song’, as was their epic rendition of ‘Lordy May’. It was also pure delight to hear their Like A Version cover of ‘Back To Black’ by Amy Winehouse. With Hosking’s dulcet tones, plus glistening synths and rustic guitar, the boys transformed the beehive queen’s track into their own.
Armed with nothing but good tunes and positive vibes, the Sydney-based Boy & Bear delivered a staggeringly fun set. Clearly, these boys have come so far since their humble triple J Unearthed beginnings. Six years on, and their crisp, polite, folky pop-rock is at its most powerhouse.