Live Review: Boy & Bear @ Palais Theatre

17 June 2023 | 10:00 am | Michael Prebeg

“Melbourne, are you ready to shake?”

Photo Credit: Maclay Heriot

Photo Credit: Maclay Heriot (Source: Supplied)

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“Melbourne, are you ready to shake?” Asks Boo Seeka as they launch into their energetic set with pulsating electronic beats. They get the crowd hyped up and dancing in their seats in no time. Their stage presence is electric, and the production is loaded with exciting instrumentation mixed with soulful vocals. 

They share some of their most vibrant recent releases, including Stories, Next To Me, and Dream, before taking it back to the first-ever song released as Boo Seeka (Kingdom Leader), dedicated to the headlining act to commemorate the first year they made it into the triple J Hottest 100 with them. Tonight, they share an acoustic version of the seminal track.

The stage fades to black, and Boo Seeka asks for our help to light up the room with our phones and wave our arms from side to side for Turn Up Your Light. Astonishingly, the audience commits to this for an entire three minutes from start to finish. 

The last time Boy & Bear played the Palais Theatre was back in 2015, so it’s somewhat of a second homecoming for them tonight. “Whenever we’re here, it feels like a home audience, and despite being Sydney boys, there have been times when we’ve pretended we’re from Melbourne,” says drummer Tim Hart.

Tonight kicks off their national tour and is a celebration of the release of their self-titled fifth studio. They’re excited to share some new material with us, but for this show, they asked their fans what they wanted to hear in their set tonight. They admit that we’ve made their life really difficult because they had to re-learn their own songs, including looking up old guitar tabs on YouTube. They give it a crack despite their inner turmoil to do even the most obscure requests justice, including an old favourite, Part Time Believer, and they deliver a solid performance that evokes a sense of nostalgia.

They take it right back to the start with a song that they recorded even before Boy & Bear was their band name. Lead singer David Hosking reveals that after writing and recording it, they sat on it for about a month until they decided what to call the band. They couldn’t come up with a name, so after an internet search creating a few keywords from a generator, out came Boy & Bear. The first song that got played on the radio called Mexican Mavis

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They go from one of their oldest songs to a new song called Silver Moon from their latest record. The introspective track boasts syncopated bates and soaring guitar melodies combined with signature sweet falsettos that fans know and love.

One of Hosking’s favourite songs from their Suck On Light record has actually never been played live before tonight so they share it with us whether anyone likes it or not. They throw in a brilliant cover of Simple MindsDon’t You (Forget About Me), which has only ever been played once in the studio at triple j for like a version. 

For anyone who pre-ordered their latest record, they have a special prize draw for one lucky winner to have Boy & Bear play at their house for them. Tim puts on a special outfit, including a ginger wig and a green jacket and pulls out a name from a gold bucket to reveal the winner. They continue with Walk The Wire, and a saxophone player joins in for an exciting solo for their final encore of Southern Sun to bring the show to a close.