Once in a while, life presents something magical; an experience that shakes you up, and reminds you what it means to be human.
The Lion The Bear The Fox were the vessel for one of these moments in time for those of us fortunate enough to be in the Serenity audience on this night.
Three men, whose hearts are bigger than their brawn, whose dynamic energy and passion oozes from every word and note, and whose individual talents are showcased to their full potential through their collective effort.
On this night, in a living room that has been converted to an intimate music venue, the men of The Lion The Bear The Fox turned their live show into an emotional awakening.
Each song was performed with an intensity and motivation to connect with each member of the audience. To see these three masculine figures become uninhibited and vulnerable with each other and a room full of strangers was remarkably surprising.
To describe the unique combination these three musicians have created is a feat worthy of the challenge. Christopher Arruda (the lion), Cory Woodward (the bear), and Ryan McMahon (the fox) each have their own story to tell, their own history and journey that could fill these pages just as easily. However, it is the joining of their lives on a path not only of music, but of brotherhood, that magnifies their ability to inspire.
Having spent years on the road and in the studio as solo artists, each of whom experienced their own degree of successes and challenges, they came together almost by accident, a favour of sorts for what was intended to be a one time deal, which has now led to the formation of a band and bond that is challenging the frontier of men in music, and even what it means for each of them to be a man.
Describing themselves as the evolution of the boy band, the “Man Band” are here to cause a reckoning of sorts. Christopher, Cory and Ryan exude a sex appeal and manliness that rivals any backwoods, lumber jacking, gold mining, mountain man you can throw at ’em. But beneath their physical exteriors lie three souls who have experienced deep pain, emotional damage and have been beaten down by the cheap tricks life can throw at you more times than they can count. Which is why when they expose themselves to reveal this pain, all the while acknowledging their new-found joy and hope in one another, there is a magic that happens between them and the audience that is formidable in its delivery.
Among all of their unbridled sentiment is a strength that is unwavering. When they perform a song or share a thought so captivating that you are moved beyond explanation, their presence holds on to you, creating a sense of security for one to feel and experience what is needed in that moment.
Telling them afterwards that the show felt like an intense counselling session, they welcomed this with smiles and laughter, saying “It’s working.”
Organically through developing music and a deep friendship with one another, they have discovered a purpose and received a response they never achieved at this level as individuals. They have learned that together they have a gift of connecting people, of inspiring an examination of self, and most intriguingly, of challenging what it means to be a “man.” Striving to prove that masculinity and strength need to be synonymous with tenderness and emotional depth, The Lion The Bear The Fox want their music to help people truly feel each moment, and not be afraid of their pain and heartache in order to fully appreciate and experience happiness.
As far as their overall performance, each of their strengths are showcased in a manner that provides variety for the audience in a cohesive format. Although each are incredibly different, their unification never seems forced or contrived. Their voices and musicality compliment each other in a perfect blend of harmonies and personalities. Cory’s husky tone eloquently delivers inspirational life lessons through songs that communicate the most complex of life’s questions and struggles, all the while with an edge of charm and wit that keep them from sounding too depressing. Christopher’s powerhouse vocals provide an intense dose of emotional weight that reach out like a punch in the gut and then ease up to reveal a gentleness, as if receiving a kiss that makes it all better. Ryan is the effortless rock star who was born to be on stage, with a voice so clean and a look so clever that his piercing blue eyes cut right to your heart as you lose yourself completely in the stories behind the songs.
It is almost impossible to choose one moment from a night that was filled with so many. Could it be when Ryan led the performance of his song “Wake Up”, born out of rekindling that spark with the one you love, which struck a chord with those struggling in the trenches of marriage, yet he dedicated it to three beloved widows in the audience who had shared their relationship secrets with the band earlier in the evening. What about Cory’s intense delivery of “Go Your Own Way,” which he prefaced with a monologue so gripping it made time stand still as he pronounced that “the only possession you will ever truly own is the moment right in front of you.” Or maybe it was the emotionally charged encore of the night, where Christopher came out into the audience, asked for all the lights to be turned on, and the three of them placed themselves in the heart of the crowd. The Bear and The Fox harmonized while The Lion belted out “Home,” the song he wrote for the men standing beside him, proving that their connection to one another is not manufactured, that they are not just a band, but have become each other’s lifeboats in a sea whose waters became too rough to swim alone.
A sincere thank you is in order for what they gave each of us this evening. A room full of people of all ages from all walks of life, who came for a night of great music, and were given so much more.
The Lion The Bear The Fox performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on March 28, 2014. (Their 11th show in 10 days, and the last day of Leg 1 of the “Freedom” Tour to be exact…and yes, they still delivered a performance that was everything written here and more).
Their debut EP “We’d Be Good Men” is available on bandcamp through their website, http://www.thelionthebearthefox.com along with links to their blog posts, social media platforms, videos and more.
What’s next? They will be announcing dates for Leg 2 of the “Freedom” Tour on April 11, 2014, and have been selected to showcase at Canada Music Week in Toronto on May 9, 2014 at The Rivoli.