By: Kim Regala, Peak Associate
Following a four-year hiatus after releasing Limit of Love in 2015, Boy & Bear have returned to the music scene with a global tour to promote their new album Suck on Light, as well as their new single “Hold Your Nerve.” The Australian indie-rock band hit the Vancouver stage on October 2 at the Commodore Ballroom, paired with fellow Aussie and folk musician Stu Larsen. Together, they delivered a memorable performance filled with noteworthy moments that are sure to be cherished within Vancouver’s folk music scene.
Opening the show was folk-pop singer/songwriter Stu Larsen, who right away set a breezy and laid-back tone for the night. While he only had his guitar and vocals to fill the room with music, he still had quite the gravitating stage presence. The audience was quick to move from their tables to the ballroom floor as he sang his opening song. His soothing vocals were enough to keep the crowd wanting more, as each song garnered greater applause than the last. Larsen’s musical style is easily associated with another well-known indie-folk artist, English singer-songwriter Passenger. This comes as no surprise, as Larsen spent some time early in his career joining the fellow musician on the road. In his LP titled Vagabond, we can hear the clear inspiration that he got from the nomadic lifestyle that he experienced traveling with Passenger.
As if Larsen’s soothing performance was not mesmerizing enough, Tim Hart — the drummer and backing vocalist of Boy & Bear — later joined him onstage to perform a cover of Ray Lamontagne’s “Jolene.” The tune was immediately recognized by the audience, whose applause roared the moment Larsen strummed the first few chords. This duet was a perfect way to finish off Larsen’s set, bringing his act to a sweet, heart-warming conclusion.
It wasn’t long until Boy & Bear entered the stage, starting off with a fitting choice to open with: “Old Town Blues” from their second album, Harlequin Dream. Many of the songs in their setlist came from this album, alongside newer releases from this year’s Suck on Light. This mix of older and newer songs allowed for an enjoyable setlist for both the more recent fans as well as those who have stuck with Boy & Bear for a long time. Earlier hits such as “Bridges” and “Big Man” were well-received by longtime fans, while the newer releases such as “Work of Art” and “Suck on Light” were equally praised.
The biggest highlight of the night, however, was when Stu Larsen rejoined the stage to sing along with the band. It was a truly unforgettable experience to witness the two Aussie acts perform together, creating a warm sense of community that shows just how powerful music can be in bringing people closer together. The band finished their set with a bang by performing their biggest hits, “Limit of Love” and “Southern Sun,” — clearly saving the best for last.