We saw Hunter and the Bear at the Exeter Phoenix. It’s one of our go-to places for local gigs. It always feels like a really nice size venue for music – it feels intimate and like you’re up close to the artists, but there’s also room to move about and even have a little boogie if the mood takes you. We keep an eye out for whatever’s coming up and often take a punt on seeing artists we don’t know and have seen some great acts that way.
When we first moved to Exeter we stumbled upon a great series of gigs based at a farm near Cheriton Bishop. It was an incredibly intimate venue – a rustic barn used for wedding receptions with hay bale seating. We went a few times before they sadly stopped hosting regular gigs and always loved the atmosphere there.
It was at these barn gigs that we first saw Hunter and The Bear perform, again supported on that occasion by North Devon band The Tuesday Syndicate.
Back to The Phoenix and a November evening in Exeter and we were looking forward to a night of good music (and maybe the odd beer or two for good measure). We booked seats for the first time as we normally stand for gigs but were impressed with the view from the balcony.
There was a good size crowd. We were expecting mainly students but there was a really great mix of people of all ages.
The Tuesday Syndicate
The Tuesday Syndicate was up first and we were reminded of how much we love their sound. It’s a blend of rock and folk but with really strong vocals and the guys performed with loads of energy. There was a lot of new material but their music is really accessible.
Sometimes when you see a band and you’re not that familiar with their songs it can feel a little odd, as if you’re waiting for the hook of a cover or track you recognise. However, there was none of that and we loved the new material and were really disappointed when their set came to an end.
Hunter and the Bear
There was a definite post-interval sense of anticipation as Hunter and the Bear took to the stage. We first saw them back in 2015 and since then the group’s profile seems to have grown considerably and there were definitely a fair few hard-core fans in the audience.
Touring their new album Paper Heart, the group seemed to have a rockier sound than when we last saw them. The strength of the vocals and guitar playing, however, was exactly as we remembered. The lead vocalist Will has an incredibly distinctive voice and is undeniably born to sing rock music.
For live performances, Hunter and the Bear are one of the best groups we’ve seen and from start to finish it was a really energetic and passionate set. The dramatic hair swinging of the bass guitar player was arguably worth the £9 ticket price alone.
There’s a real sense of old meets new when listening to Hunter and the Bear. Our rock history knowledge probably isn’t as good as it should be…but there’s an incredibly authentic vibe to their music that echoes some of the big bands of the 70s, but blended with a more contemporary sound.
The night drew to a crescendo of a close with the encore being particularly memorable and we left the gig buzzing with the kind of excitement that you only really get from seeing great live music.