The Joy Formidable @ Oran Mor, Glasgow – 26/02/2013

ritzyOran Mor wasn’t quite sold out for this show, which was a surprise to me and I daresay probably the promoters. Although not full, the venue was still perfectly sized for a close look at the band who released their critically acclaimed second album Wolf’s Law in January.

Welsh trio The Joy Formidable have toured relentlessly (most recently with Muse) and as a result I’ve seen them many times before tonight – always in support. This was the first time watching them headline their own show and the first since the release of the new album. Their “wall of sound” approach and Ritzy’s cutting vocal over the top sounds so impressive live.

The band set the bar high from the very outset starting with the brilliant ‘Cholla’ from the new album and following it up with ‘Austere’ from debut The Big Roar. As they worked their way through the set it was clear just how many big sounds The Joy Formidable now have in their arsenal. Although what really struck me was something I’d never really noticed whilst they were in their support slots; the band have a brilliant sense of humour and level of comfort on stage!

The camaraderie between the three and the constant ‘ribbing’ which takes place between bassist Rhydian and drummer Matt is very amusing. Not slapstick, but simple things like when the band walk onstage Matt picks up the bass guitar waiting for Rhydian and walks over and hides it behind the drumkit as he sits down. Leaving a few minutes of confusion before he owns up!

For the encore section the band shout for “One more choon!” (as only a Glasgow crowd seem to be able to) and this is commented upon by Rhydian that this has been a hot gig and he’s accumulated more than enough “bollock sweat” already, but they are not going to play “one more, but rather two more choons”. Singer Ritzy soon chips in that she hasn’t accumulated any bollock sweat yet, and well you can guess the rest…

After first encore ‘Forest Serenade’ is finished a “heckler” shouts for “one more choon” and this time Ritzy tells the story that at a recent gig a heckler shouted for ‘Lady In Red’ and she had him ejected from the show. Rhydian soon pipes up that it proved very hard to play without a drummer for the rest of that show! Whilst probably seeming tame now, the onstage humour and fun the band were having was a new element I had not seen before. Perhaps there isn’t space for it when not at their own shows, or maybe they’ve grown into being more comfortable than ever on stage. Whichever it is the band were well and truly in a groove on Tuesday night and the show was superb as a result.

Final song, ‘Whirring’ ended with Rhydian stage diving (without his bass) and ‘flying Superman-stylee’ around the crowd before landing on the stage, picking up his instrument and continuing the song, before Ritzy backed onto the crowd, lying on top of them and passing her guitar over her head into the crowd for them to “play”. After a few minutes noise, Security rescued the guitar and no sooner had that happened Ritzy had picked up and plugged in a new guitar and given it to the crowd to play.

‘Whirring’ ended with the comment, “This is a bit messy. It’s nice though” and off she walked.

The Joy Formidable Setlist Oran Mor, Glasgow, Scotland 2013, Wolf's Law
Gareth Fraser

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