On the second of two sold out dates in Vicar Street, an enthusiastic midweek crowd welcomed Grizzly Bear back to Dublin for their first visit in 4 years in support of the band’s fifth studio album, Painted Ruins.
The Irish audience were warmed up by special guests Liima who kicked things off with their own peculiar brand of Scandanavian synth rock taken from upcoming album 1982. ”Life Is Dangerous” in particular was a highlight of the young band’s set, with its ambient Cure-like epicness as well as ”Amerika”, a sprawling synth anthem which brought the set to climax in a style perhaps more akin to Passion Pit or MGMT. A solid, short opening show coupled with some courteous crowd interaction left Dubliners buzzing for the main act.
Around 9.15, Grizzly Bear slunk onto stage to a raucous ovation, launching immeditely into new singles ”Four Cypresses” and ”Mourning Sound” with a bang, as frontman Ed Droste declares early on that ”Dublin has been very good to us”. The band lean perhaps a tiny bit too heavily on new material in the early stages of the set, although the trippy strobe lighting and stage design add tenfold to the atomsphere, and the intertwined vocals of Droste and guitarist Daniel Rossen are a thing to behold, as the two vocalists play off each other with ease and a natural charisma that shines throughout the set. It’s a style that never fails to charm on record, and especially so when recreated so wonderfully in a live setting as intimate as Vicar Street.
The new singles segue into old favourites midway through the show as the band deliver plenty of material from previous album Shields (”Yet Again”, ”Sleeping Ute”) and magnum opus Veckatimest (”Fine For Now”, ”Ready, Able”), provoking the loudest responses of the evening thus far. Smash hit centerpiece ”Two Weeks” brings the house down, as Droste waxes lyrical about the hometown crowd, declaring Dublin ”one of our favourite places to play”, and you’d love to believe him. He also loves the venue- reflecting the sentiments of the Vicar Street audience, who are revelling in their proximity to the band and their sound.
The climax of the show is directly contrasted with the magnificent beauty of ”Foreground” before we get ”something extra old” in ”Knife”, a major treat for early fans of the four piece. ‘While You Wait For The Others” is more than a worthy send off as we approach the end of the evening, and the band are received with deserved acclaim for an old school encore- delivering ”Shift”, the oldest song of the evening, taken from debut Horn Of Plenty, before treating us to epic closer ”Sun In Your Eyes”.
Overall, the setlist is a sensible mix of the new and the old, providing fans with glimpses of the best moments of Painted Ruins while also leaving plenty of room to service die hards and even the more casual attendees among the extremely appreciative Irish gathering. A reliably incredible performance from one of indie rock’s most charming acts sends Dubliners home in a daze, and more than likely hoping it won’t take another four years for the ever outstanding Grizzly Bear to return.
Andrew Lambert – Vicar Street, October 5th.