Wembley Arena, London
Imagine our surprise when Louder Than War favourites Eliza and the Bear baggsied a slot on Paramore’s latest arena tour of the UK. Our man reports back from the frontline of a very special night for a quite a small band. (As our request for a ticket was turned down by Paramore’s people Keith was allowed to leave before said band came on. Ergo this review just focusses on E&TB’s set, candy floss & Paramore’s fans).
So….after four albums and a string of fabricated tabloid news stories involving Eliza and the Bear entertaining their soap opera star girlfriends by driving stretch limo’s into swimming pools whilst trying to escape hysterical fans climbing over fences to snap a quick pic’ on their mobile ‘phones for their scrapbooks…….er, no…….
That’s not true and I’m being daft. ……. OK, what about ……
…….after observing the band for a second time last February and casually mentioning on this Louder than War blog that Eliza And The Bear have big enough and good enough tunes to play big arena’s, someone had the idea after reading it (and witnessing a gig at the Old Queens Head in Islington on a cold Monday night in April this year in front of 24 people) that the time is right……….nope!……. That won’t work either….
Look! If I actually knew how the music industry fairies operated I wouldn’t be hanging out of my icecream van selling 99s to hungry children in Leytonstone High Rd on a Sunday afternoon would I?
I don’t know how this happened.
One minute (last November to be precise) I’m chuckling away at this band, having a giggle with them on a staircase, and saying out loud things about the ridiculous nature of these songs being played in such a small room whilst a handful of people look on. I’m pointing out that there are arena’s out there that were built especially for this kind of stuff and that maybe…..maybe….(wobbly graphics, just like in the movies…..)….but it wasn’t a serious conversation. These things can be joked about because these things simply don’t ever happen for real do they?
For example, “Antlered Man”, who are probably the coolest band in the UK at the moment aren’t ever going to headline Glastonbury are they ? However terrific it’d be. It probably wouldn’t happen. THEN ….. the next minute (This week to be precise)….We’re seeing photos of “Eliza and the Bear” standing on stages bigger than any venue they’ve previously played in (probably) and hundreds, nay, FUCKIN’ THOUSANDS of people clapping along to songs they’ve probably never heard before whilst an old man sits alone about a football stadium length away from the stage being offered a fist full of candy floss and being asked who this band are and what my favourite PARAMORE song is (I don’t have one).
In the days proceeding Wembley Arena (this was the second of two nights) this tour (Paramore headlining and Charlie XCX between the two) had visited equally sized venues around the UK and one look at the band’s twitter timeline (Exhibit A: “Was that you we saw you when we were eating chips just now?” and Exhibit B: ” Was that you in the van, was that you?”) reveals that these chaps are getting a pretty good reaction from the kids mainly in attendance to see the headline act.
That’s pretty much what happened.
Some of us cool East London indie kids don’t go to many of the big gigs.
Some of us cool dudes prefer the Shaklewell Arms or the Dalston Victoria, where you can see the whites of the band’s eyes and feel the sweat spraying from the foreheads as they lunge backwards and forwards. We prefer gigs where people don’t hang around at the back and practice their cartwheeling skills and handstands before any of the bands come on. We enjoy being able to walk around freely which means we don’t have to keep going back to the same seat, thus having to return to sit near THE SAME BLOODY PEOPLE.
Arena gigs are very different.
A small bottle of beer costs £4.80. You could get two of them in a plastic pint container. That’s just under a tenner a pint.
People walk around selling Candy Floss.
People walk up to those people and buy Candy Floss.
Small groups of people, young people, pissed or hyped up on a sugar overdose at the crazy hour of seven PM are sitting in close proximity. One is very pissed and keeps asking people why we’re at a Paramore gig and whether we’d seen Paramore before.
And how many times.
One is eating candy floss and a big bar of chocolate, and one is drinking coke and eating chips. Now, imagine next time YOU have a night out with two of your mates and whilst you’ve tanked yourself up on your mums vodka from the sideboard, and turned up in your best “My Chemical Romance” T-shirt, you discover that TONIGHT YEAH!! TONIGHT ….We’re going to party like it’s 199 ……Oh! ……. OK …… you’re going to just sit there and eat chips all night ……?
So what does one do when dribbling your mothers vodka out of the side of your mouth at seven o’clock on a Saturday night and refusing to eat your mates crisps being offered around then?…….Well …… some people just talk to the nearest person near them who just happen to be sitting there on their own rather looking forward to seeing these six boys from Essex even though they look like dots in the distance. One dot wearing the same red vest he wore at the Borderline a couple of weeks ago.
This is what they do …. they talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk…. offer their drink to everyone who looks ’round and talk and talk and shout about Paramore, about past arena gigs, about the X factor and about where they got the tickets from until one person overhearing all of this asks them politely to “shut the fuck up please!” Silencing background conversations that the chocolate eaters were having about how great these seats are even though they’re twelve miles from the fuckin’ stage.
Elisa and the Bear are playing bottom of the bill at Wembley.
There’s a few thousand people here already. Including me (you didn’t think I was making this up do you?), on my Jack Jones.
Another ten rows back and i’ll be in Watford. This is STADIUM RAWWWWWKKKKKK !!!!
This is definitely not the Shaklewell Arms.
Elisa and the Bear have an intro-tape and young James Kellegher does that “Hello Wembley!” thing it was joked about previously that he would one day succumb to. The bass drum intro is HUGE. The sound for opening song “Upon the North” (that’s a set ender not a set opener) sounds rotten from the back. Things improve and between our seats at the back and the stage are hundreds of pairs of hands waving in the air and clapping. It should be noted that no one asked the audience to behave like this. It just happened. One wonders IF these people in here know this band already like some of us (or one of us) or is this a shed full of Paramore fans behaving like they feel they’re meant to at a Paramore gig (or any gig). All the “hits” get played. “Brothers boat” “Friends” “The Southern Wild” a couple that we don’t know the titles to and in the time it takes to guzzle down a small bottle of fizzy drink they’re gone.
Waving goodbye to the crowd and completing what’s been a week of playing their euphoric indie songs to about thirty thousand (plus) people over the course of the proceeding week.
Not bad for a band we scratched our heads about whilst wondering whether we could be bothered about seeing them on that cold school night in that tiny church at the back of St Pancras station four or five months ago.
They’ve done it then.
Eliza and the bear got to play some big arenas in front of some big crowds and they haven’t even released their debut album yet.
Just like we told you they would (sort of).
Even though we weren’t exactly being 100% serious about it.
Which means they’ve got only about four more albums to write before they get to play these places in their own right then I suppose?
I’d post a picture, but there were about ten thousand others doing that.
I’d post a really wobbly video of one of the songs from the show but…actually I will …
Eliza and the bear play the London Garage in Islington on December 5th.
Has anyone else learnt the words yet or will I be still be singing along on my own again?