Grizzly Bear don’t need this review.
The fact that they’re here again, playing another sold-out London venue, touring another well-received record, points to a fact even they can’t deny: over the last 12 years they’ve become one of the world’s greatest bands.
The Grizzly Bear on stage in Brixton tonight aren’t too dissimilar to the one we saw at the Roundhouse nearly 10 years ago; older perhaps, and quieter in their confidence. Yet as they’ve moved from Veckatimest to Shields to their latest triumph Painted Ruins, four seemingly disparate personalities never fail to make a greater whole across this crowd-pleasing set.
And it’s quite a crowd, too. Brixton is filled with the usual cast of head-bobbers and, as Ed Droste points out, only the second ever person to crowd-surf at a Grizzly Bear gig. It’s never less than rapturous, however, with the usually quiet British sense of reservation dispensed with for the sake of positive reinforcement at every turn.
It’s hard not to willingly offer it to Grizzly Bear tonight, though. Starting with the luminous Four Cypresses, it’s clear that they’re still one of the slickest units to grace a modern stage. Daniel Rossen shares about equal vocal duty across the night, while Chris-es Bear and Taylor fill the venue with drums and swirling brushstroke guitar respectively. Droste, meanwhile, has never seemed more relaxed, confident, and dare we say pleased to be the Grizzly Bear frontman.
The newer material is both treated and received with as much respect as the old, but it’s certainly the latter that cements the warmth present here tonight. Ready, Able remains a masterpiece every time it hits the air, Two Weeks unsurprisingly gets the biggest cheer of the night, and Foreground is a moment of breathtaking calm that still invites pin-drop silence even to this day.
As we said, then, Grizzly Bear don’t need this review. By the same token, they also don’t need to do anything remotely showy tonight, sailing on the strength of songwriting that has already withstood a decade. In that time, both the band and their fans have withstood their own decade of trauma on both personal and political levels; tonight there are smiles of contentment on both sides, and a genuine sense that all these ruins will flourish only by being rebuilt together.