The following article was originally published in Monday Magazine and can be found here.
2011 has been an exciting year for Ryan Beattie’s Himalayan Bear. This year has seen the release of the exquisite Hard Times, and subsequent touring in both Europe, with Katherine Calder, and down the West coast by his lonesome. If Saturday night was any indication, all of this touring has resulted in a live set that somehow manages to surpass the recordings; the songs are even sexier draped in a live skin.
The experience was reminiscent of Desire-era Bob Dylan. While Desire surely as one of Dylan’s best works (and Beattie may agree as his ‘other band’ Chet does an amazing cover of “Oh Sister”) the resulting Rolling Thunder Review Revue tour gave songs such as “Isis” and “One More Cup of Coffee For the Road” a context in which to become fully realized (compare, for instance, the studio version of “Isis” to the live version featured on Biograph).
On Saturday night Beattie sang every track of his latest master work with an excitement and vigor only hinted at on the studio recordings. Surrounded by members of Chet, Beattie quickly set to work establishing this most recent incarnation of the revolving cast of musicians that is Himalayan Bear, as the best.
Particularly noteworthy was the return of Matt Skillings. Skillings’ interpretation of the percussive craft is less rhythmic than that of Beattie’s other drummers– his style is less John Bonham and more Glenn Kotche.
Beattie will soon be leaving us again, this time for a tour down the East Coast of the United States. But he won’t leave before opening the show for Kathryn Calder’s CD release party at Lucky Bar later this month. If you weren’t at Logan’s on Saturday night (or even if you were), be sure to buy tickets to Calder’s release NOW; catch the Himalayan Bear before he migrates (hopefully, “just for the winter”).