I have a confession to make. Up until this point I had never listened to or even heard of Seabear. After a spot of pre-gig research I learned that they are a 7 piece from Iceland and are in the midst of a month long whistlestop European tour. They have existed, in various guises, for over 5 years now, which makes my ignorance of them even more shameful. On arrival at the boxy Upstairs @ The Garage, I was relieved to see that there were clearly a healthy amount of more clued up individuals than I, keen to wrap their ears around whatever is was that Seabear had to offer. Squeezing themselves onto the smallest stage in gig history, Seabear shuffle on so quietly that it takes the crowd a while to realize that they are there, but from the first bars of chirpy opener Arms onwards, the politely eager crowd were eating out of Seabear’s capable paws. Less ethereal and eccentric than their fellow countrymen, Sigur Ros, Seabear still maintain the modest cool so familiar with most Icelandic musical exports (Bjork aside!). Lead singer, multi instrumentalist and main man Sindri Már Sigfússon is charmingly self effacing throughout the show, his dry humour warming him to the usually stand offish London crowd, and only cracking a smile when fellow band members announce the fact that it is his birthday and lead the crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday (getting to the part where the crowd had to sing his name was an interesting experience). Ignoring the size restraints of the postage stamp stage, trombones, euphoniums, violins, keys, harmonicas, guitars and drums all make up their multifaceted sound, which is so tight and together you start to wonder how on earth a group of mere humans can make such a perfect, faultless sound. All presented in such an understated, yet quietly confident way. They know the strength of their talent and don’t feel it necessary to brag about it. A lesson in perfect restraint. Think Arcade Fire without the bombast. Or Sufjan Stevens if he was 7 people. They rattle through their set of 3 minute wonders, producing track after track of star gazing folk pop, reminiscent of the likes of I’m From Barcelona or Loney Dear. Gig highlight ‘Warm Blood’ had me grinning from ear to ear in stupefied wonder – an epic exercise in the loud and quiet dynamic with heavy guitars, floating violin, thoughtful introverted verses and massive choruses. This is goosebumps stuff of the highest calibre and cries out for festival appearances. I wanted to be in a field in Somerset listening to this, rather than a shoebox on Holloway Road. Masters of the slow build, ‘Cold Summer’ had the crowd silently mesmerised (except for the over excited Icelandic dude who kept yelping throughout – but a gig ain’t a gig without at least one crazy, right?) and then getting everyone pumped up enough to sing along to ‘Seashell’, a charming country folk ditty. Always a risky business when playing to a new crowd, luckily there were enough fans there to do a sterling job. And then it was over. In what seemed to be the shortest set in history, I was surprised to learn that they had been on for a full hour. As a perennial professional gig goer for the past 10 years or so, I am ashamed to admit that I generally get a bit bored after the first 4 tracks and tend to drift off to the bar, but I was genuinely transfixed throughout Seabear’s set, and for that I am grateful. I forgot I was a cynical reviewer for a minute and became a brand new Seabear fan, and from me there is no higher praise.