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Review: Greg Phillips. Photos: David Harris Photography

Released in August 2013, Harlequin Dream was the second album for Australian rock band Boy & Bear, reaching #1 on the ARIA chart and launching the group on a road to local and international acclaim. A ten year anniversary is certainly cause for celebration and tonight in Melbourne, a near capacity crowd have braved the cold on the first of two nights at The Forum to  pay respect to the band and the record that paved the way to their ongoing success.

Early birds to the show got to experience the immense talent of singer, songwriter Benjamin Trillado, who scored the gig after sending Boy & Bear an ‘audition’ tape. His heartfelt tunes, such as Why Did You Buy Me Flowers would have gained him many new followers tonight.

Forum Melbourne

It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Australia’s fave chanteuse Sarah Blasko on stage and the Melbourne crowd certainly indicated that they’d missed her. The great news is that new music is coming in 2024, following on from the praise of her 2018 recording Depth Of Field and tonight the crowd had the pleasure of hearing a preview of what’s to come. Seeing such a high profile, quality artist as a support act was an incredible bonus for punters and Sarah was obviously enjoying being back in front of a large, receptive crowd.

Forum Melbourne

Boy & Bear arrive on time at 9.15 and proceed to sing the opening strains of Southern Son, the first track off Harlequin Dream but stopped short of kicking into the song entirely, instead offering an overture and then motoring into track two, Old Town Blues. Harlequin Dream the title track followed and brought to the stage sax player Matt Ottignon, who received a rousing welcome from the crowd. Main man Dave Hosking joked that they usually bring Matt on at the end as  a highlight but track order dictated his early arrival.

Forum Melbourne

The band has certainly come a long way since its inception in 2009 and clearly the thousands of road miles and many laps around the globe have developed the band into one slick unit. Their harmonies in particular are flawless with Dave Hosking’s isolated lead vocals soaring to sublime pinnacles.

The gorgeous ballad A Moments Grace is a gig highlight, showcasing Hosking’s wonderful range and profound, soulful delivery. Drummer Tim Hart chips in to tell us that the country flavoured End of the Line is to follow, a track order mistake in his opinion after such a poignant vocal performance from Hosking.

To finalise the presentation of the Harlequin Dream album section of the show, the guys bring Sarah Blasko back to the stage to help out on a full version of Southern Son. With Blasko, patently enjoying herself, she has fun duelling vocal licks with Killian’s guitar.

Forum Melbourne

After a short break the band return for a 40 minute encore which begins with the vocally intriguing State Of Flight. Walk the Wire has the audience breaking out into unfettered dance. Feeding Line has the band firing on all cylinders,  jamming as one and confirming their place as a world class outfit.

Finishing up with Crowded House’s Fall At Your Feet, a song Dave says he wishes he’d written, the audience and band come together for a stirring singalong.

With so much negative music industry news of late such as the closure of local venues and cancellation of festivals, it was inspiring to see the first of two packed houses at the Forum coming together to enjoy some home grown, international class entertainment.

Tour dates and more info at Boy & Bear website

Benjamin Trillado
Sarah Blasko

Forum Melbourne


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