It’s a cold and rainy evening in Manchester and The Albert Hall is filling up quite nicely. The opening act is Patrick James – who’s most recent album Outlier, was released this time last year. He has a folk persona, an acoustic guitar and a keyboard too. He sounds a little like a slower, more delicate Mumford & Sons, which is quite relaxing. His stage presence is understated but confident, and the songs he played from his album were wonderful, he also played a compelling cover of The Killers’ ‘Runaways’ which warmed up the crowd.

Next on stage is Matthew and The Atlas, close your eyes and imagine sitting in a log cabin, being sung to by a burley lumberjack, surrounded with a full band and a female backing vocal. Heartache can pack a punch when released in song but it felt as though lead singer Matthew Hegarty was holding back during the set, yet there is something very refreshing about them.

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It’s 9pm, lights go down and orchestral bass illuminates The Albert Hall. Bear’s Den are a live band in the truest sense, having built a career playing gigs anywhere and everywhere that would let them. It’s not a surprise when the boys effortlessly bridge the gap between audience and performer, but it is still refreshing at a time when basic human connection can feel quite elusive. 

Songs from the album Red Earth & Pouring Rain were met with a roar. The title track has welcome tinges of The War on Drugs while the oomph of soaring folk-rock stormer ‘Dew on the Vine’ hears Davie muse on his untameable heart and sounds set to be a road trip playlist.

Lyrically there is something bonding in these hope-fuelled songs. Clearly, the band feel it too, before ending the evening they played a tender rendition of early EP favourite ‘Agape’.

Better known songs from Islands inspire a sing-a-long, the sensitive, more serious moments were lightened by smiles and coming closer on stage.