Album Review: Kings & Bears – Live In Lincoln

In the current age of the constant barrage of “Covid-19” this and “Coronavirus” that filling up our screens, it can be hard to catch a break from the anxiety and negativity of the ‘new normal’ of staying alert, staying indoors and staying safe. Music, for many of us, offers a great escape from the metaphorical whirlwind of never-ending bad news that we currently find ourselves in. Many of our favourite artists have answered our prayers and partaken in livestreams that we can buy tickets to (as if it was a real, actual gig, if anyone can remember those by this point), and dropped new singles or even whole albums for us to sink our teeth into. But many of us have been yearning for that feeling of heading out to our favourite local/small venue, and seeing, hearing and experiencing ‘proper’ live music, and often, livestreams from artist’s bedrooms and new records sadly don’t cut it for those hankering after that… Kings and Bears, however, recently treated us with a release of their Live in Lincoln album, recorded from a show at the LPAC last May, and it’s just the loud, spirited, local live show fix we needed!

We’ve covered Kings and Bears’ live sets a couple of times here (and here) on Joyzine before, and the opening track from the live album, ‘Why You Need Me So’ instantaneously took us back to the high energy, ‘jump right in’ feel that we so loved about being in the audience of their physical shows. Fast paced, yet with that signature Kings and Bears chilled and suave vibe, it makes for a great introduction, for first-time listeners and veteran fans alike – letting new fans know what they’re all about with no hesitation, and giving those who’ve listened or been to a show before that delightful, nostalgic feeling. The trio dive straight into the second track, a personal favourite of mine, ‘Than We’ve Ever Been Before’, their lead singer James using his charisma to encourage the crowd to “get in a bit closer” and “share the love” – it really is the little tastes of live shows like this that make this album a great transporter back to those nights many of us are sorely missing, and it’s bittersweet to say the least, but as mentioned before, it’s precisely what so many music fans are needing. The track builds into the boys’ signature rock ‘n’ roll jam session style sound, that sounds as beautifully rehearsed as it does expertly improvised; drums, guitar and bass classically interwoven in a way that you just cannot help moving to.

The set list next flows into the wonderful tune ‘Sincere’, that makes for a slightly more chilled, cool direction, but still continues to please the audience with something that they can move to – just one of the things that makes this band so great is that they produce live music that you can feel in your bones (and any concert-goer will know what I’m talking about there), and it’s nothing short of wizardry when you can get that same feeling on a recorded live album. Sit and close your eyes whilst you play this one, and it feels like you’re really there! A true testament to the band’s musical abilities, James takes a moment prior to the song to introduce new band member Steve for their first gig as “Kings and Bears mark two,” you’d think that they had all played together hundreds of times listening to this record, as the effortless chemistry is just as apparent here as it was in our previous review for a show at another iconic Lincoln venue, The Engine Shed, that took place some months later.

Some members of the audience clearly began to get excited at their instant recognition of the next song, ‘Take On The Night’ not ceasing their hearty applause from the end of ‘Sincere’. It’s very clear from the previous sets that we’ve covered for this Lincolnshire-based trio that they have a very loyal following, and that this song is a fan favourite. Audience participation isn’t always an easy thing to coax out of a crowd, but it’s consistently apparent that these guys have no trouble enticing audience members to clap, sing and dance along with no apology – you don’t have to see this with your eyes, even on a live album such as Live In Lincoln, as the crowd energy shows itself in abundance just listening to a show. You can feel it exuding from your headphones, speaker, car stereo with the windows down (which are all valid, tried and tested ways of listening to this album), and it’s perfect for times such as these when you’re feeling those gig blues.

‘Kings and Bears 2.0’ absolutely blast their way through the rest of their set, and as expected, lift the roof off of the LPAC. James describes the gig as a “good start” for the newly formed trio as he introduces the final song, ‘When the Day’; we can safely say that this is a band that started off as they meant to go on… This is a live album that climaxes once again before it closes, ‘When the Day’ bringing a sublime mix of controlled, yet messy (in the best possible way) loud rock vibes. Crashing drums, sweet guitar solos and those ever-cool vocals from James, it’s another winner to close out the show. The audience go nothing short of crazy for their final fix of the evening, and we certainly wish we could be there to do it with them… Is it time to go back to a gig yet?

Review by Chloe Addlesee

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