Eliza & the Bear At Islington Assembly Hall, 7th April 2016

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On the eve of their debut album release last Friday, Eliza and the Bear played to a sold out Islington Assembly Hall in North London with no sign of an Eliza or a bear but with plenty of inspirational feel good vibes.

It has taken five years of hard work to get to this point and the band are upbeat about the album finally hitting the shelves after recording in Nashville and about to embark on a whistle-stop tour of record store signings and acoustic sets.

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Lead singer James Kellegher was joined on stage by band members Callie Noakes, Martin Dukelow, Chris Brand, and Paul Kevin Jackson. The band is named after a collection of poems by Eleanor Rees and is made up of old friends that all lived very close together in Essex.  All of the guys knew each other from local bands and after becoming slightly disillusioned with the music industry, and the fact that their respective bands had split up, got together to write music together to see what happened. The result is a euphoric mix of indie folk pop that is made to be played live and visibly lifts the crowd, although if you listen to the lyrics there is an underlying darkness. On Thursday night the whole gig was accompanied by a wonderful feeling of positivity as people bounced on each other’s shoulders and danced and punched the air with delight. This is a band that is made to play the festival circuit and I am sure that come the autumn, with an excellent album to play and promote, the name Eliza and the Bear will be on everyone’s lips, and more importantly their playlists. It really feels that after all the hard work this band has finally arrived and will only go from strength to strength.

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The album is produced by ,, the Grammy award winning and multi platinum selling record producer, engineer and mixer who’s worked with artists including Kings of Leon, James Bay, Of Monsters And Men, Buddy Guy, and Norah Jones, to name a few. He can now add Eliza And The Bear to that exalted company, and I’m sure they will become just as popular.

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Everyone came out of this gig buzzing. There was a palpable feeling of good will amongst the crowd and at one point I was grabbed and swung around by a fan during the concert finale of current single ‘Friends’, and told “this is what happens at Eliza gigs!” There seems something endearingly positive that accompanies this band and it felt like many of the fans had been there since day one, something that lead singer James made a point of being grateful for. Grab the chance to see this band as soon as you can, they are rockier in the flesh than on record and may well be filling arenas this time next year.

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