Live Review: Grizzly Bear

13 March 2018 | 2:58 pm | Shannon Andreucci

"Catching Grizzly Bear whenever they are in town, in particular on a stage as acoustically impressive as Sydney Opera House, is essential."

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Indie rock luminaries Grizzly Bear made their triumphant return to the Sydney Opera House stage and it was well worth the five-year wait. 

As the droves of faithful fans filled the famous Sydney Opera House halls it sure felt like a long weekend and not a Monday night. Co-frontman Daniel Rossen made it clear when he first addressed the audience that it was as much an honour for the band to play this auspicious venue as it was for the crowd to be in attendance.

A buzz of excitement was palpable from the outset, fans of all kinds filled with anticipation for the band to bless our ears with new tracks from their latest album Painted Ruins, and the hope of classics from previous offerings Shields, Veckatimest and Yellow House.

The New York trailblazers dove straight into the twisting, turning magnificence of Four Cypresses and Losing All Sense, before dipping into more familiar material with Fine For Now and Ready, Able.

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It makes sense that the four exceptionally talented members - Rossen, Ed Droste, Chris Taylor, and Christopher Bear - perform in a straight row at the front of the stage. Each are equal masters at their multiple instruments (keys, guitar, horn, effects and percussion), and their intricate, dazzling harmonies weave and overlap in perfect unison. It's mind-blowing to see Taylor work the floor of effect pedals and sequencer while dropping everything to add a beautiful flute, clarinet or saxophone part, as we saw in grandiose encore pieces Shift and Sun In Your Eyes.

The stage design again was something to behold. Large crinkled sheets of luminescent material put the audience deep in a cavern of sound. The lighting rig danced from side to side in perfect synergy with the music, colour and subtle optics providing the ideal framework for masters at work.

Set highlights came in the form of deeper cuts On A Neck, On A Spit and the hymn-like Foreground, which sent goosebumps through the crowd. It was no surprise that the likes of old favourites Two Weeks and While You Wait For The Others roused euphoric responses either.

As always they were humble and personal, not often engaging with the audience, while remaining close enough to chat over the occasional technical blip or core member anecdote.

It goes without saying, catching Grizzly Bear whenever they are in town, in particular on a stage as acoustically impressive as the Sydney Opera House, is something not to be missed. They are a band that we imagine fans will do anything to see, time and time again, as the show is always one of amazement, beauty and sonic brilliance.