It had been three (very long) years since fans of Andrew Belle have gotten a proper full length release and 2013 turned out to be the magic year for his patient fans. Black Bear found Belle discovering a new musical soundscape, sounding more electronically ethereal than his traditional singer-songwriter sound—though the sonic transformation was hinted at with 2012’s The Ladder Remixed and The Daylight EP. Nevertheless, the musical progression in Belle’s discography finds the Nashville-by-way-of-Chicago artist never alienating longtime fans who may be wary of the new sound.
Belle’s set at Highline Ballroom this past Wednesday night mostly consisted of Black Bear tracks, appropriately enough since it was well, ahem, the Black Bear Tour. Lead single, “Pieces” was the first glimpse into Black Bear when it was released back in July and its layered, airy sound transcends in a live setting, easily becoming a highlight of the night. Obviously, the live Black Bear tracks differed from their recorded album counterparts, allowing for a fresh take on the songs. With support from his backing band, each tracks’ backing vocals and multi-layered elements were able to really come through.
“Wants What It Wants” and title track “Black Bear” proved favorites among the audience but nothing could really compare to the reaction once Andrew Belle classic “The Ladder” began to play. And once it did, boy, did the audience swoon. “There’s a right and a wrong time” sang Belle, and in that moment, everything was right. When Andrew Belle and his band walked off the stage without a goodbye, naturally the audience remained planted in their spots and in no time, the band was back to end the night with “The Enemy,” one of Black Bear’s more energetic tracks, appropriately closed with much crowd stomping and clapping.
Midway through the show, Belle took a moment to discuss his involvement with Cure, a charity that brings basic hospital procedures to third world children and about Dennis, the child he’s supporting on this tour. More information on this can be seen here: http://cure.org/c/andrew-belle/