It’s a well-humoured night with a great line up organised by Scottish Fiction at The Hug and Pint as Bella and the Bear take to the stage for their last gig of 2016 following a second successful EP release earlier this April.
Comprised of Lauren Gilmour on keyboard and Stuart Ramage on guitar with both combining for the vocals, Bella and the Bear create a beautiful harmonic sound.
Their experimental soothing vocals interspersed with rap give an interesting mix that takes you by surprise such as in ‘Skeleton’.
Christmas specials are becoming an annual tradition for Beerjacket and with a new studio album nearing completion he steps onto the stage and opens with two new songs.
Despite him apologising for not playing old numbers, these are well received by everyone in the room.
The familiarity of the characteristic riff of ‘Cave’ next however brings smiles to all.
Beerjacket remains seated and unable to see him I close my eyes and let his intricate plucking transport me into the music.
The guitar work is masterful and it is easy to see why he has built up a loyal following dotted amidst the newcomers in the crowd here tonight.
Everyone is singing along by the time we get to ‘Antlers’, which he dedicates to his ill friend Julia Doogan who sang on the album release of this song but can’t be here tonight.
Climbing onto a seat at the side of the audience, he launches into an unplugged version of ‘Eggshells’ that nearly melts my heart.
Then the beginning of ‘Cape’ before something goes wrong, which he laughs off to the great entertainment of those who have seen him before, as his “second song curse” when playing acoustically.
He duly recovers and treats us to renditions to be cherished for a long time, especially of the former.
Asked whether we would like “a new one or an old one” for the encore, someone cheekily replies “one of each” and Beerjacket obliges, first playing the title track of his new album ‘Silver Chords’.
His feel-good neo-folk sound is always a pleasure here and he certainly shows us we have something to look forward to in his new release, which he says is “imminent in the new year.”
Words: Chris Cox