Monday, 25 February 2013

Live Show - The Joy Formidable

© Shaun Wooton

Where: Nottingham
Venue: Rescue Rooms

The Joy Formidable are one of the few current British bands that you should see live. A band dominated by loud sounds, big sounds and lengthy instrumentals, The Joy Formidable are no strangers to the live scene. I've never been to Nottingham's Rescue Rooms before, but after my three hour experience on February 24, I would definitely go again. After two Welsh support acts, the stage was finally set for the headliners, the band people travel far to see. The Joy Formidable aren’t shy of the stage, and their 80 minute show certainly enhances their ability to play every kind of venue, no matter what time of year or for what occasion.

The trio opened their set with "Cholla", the three and a half minute single taken from their sophomore album Wolf's Law which was released in January. It's an abrasive track and not far off the rock quality The Big Roar possesses. The volume was loud and was set for the rest of the performance; the audience was in for a loud treat. They then played one of their early singles, a track from debut EP A Balloon Called Moaning, "While the Flies" and then the fantastic single "Austere". One of the key noticeable visual aspects of The Joy Formidable’s performance is vocalist / guitarist Ritzy Bryan's right hand movements. With the power of the pic, she points, stares and directs the audience with her character. This is backed by the high pitched vocal jeers from bassist Rhydian Dafydd, accompanied by a visual screen behind where The Joy Formidable are playing.

"This Ladder Is Ours" is even more powerful when heard live, as is the final track from The Big Roar, "The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade". Throughout The Joy Formidable’s set, Bryan and Dafydd mocked drummer Matt Thomas and encouraged heckling, in a friendly manner. Bryan spoke of the last time they played Nottingham's Rescue Rooms. Thomas walked around the club holding a spoonful of mash potato. This sparked Dafydd to compare Thomas' facial hair and long hair to that of Russell Brand. The trio talked about how they welcome their support acts, by feeding them mash potatoes. It wasn't as weird as it may seem...

They offered the fast and furious with "Cradle", one of The Joy Formidable best tracks. It's one of their most encouraging tracks to hear live, creating a smoother and lighter mood within the audience. During one of Wolf's Law's softer tracks, "Silent Treatment", a couple in the age between let’s say 40 and 50, continued to talk very loudly over Dafydd's acoustic guitar and Bryan's vocal. I'm not sure why they decided to take it out on each other during The Joy Formidable's soft spot. This was weirder than it seems... 

"Maw Maw Song" is one of the vigorous tracks on Wolf's Law. It's three songs in one really; first the listener has the Sabbath "Iron Man" introduction, then the synthesizer middle segment and the metal-esque outro. The Joy Formidable really come into their own when they build from a single riff. "Little Blimp" is my personal favourite from Wolf's Law and it didn't disappoint live. The instruments came together smoothly, as Bryan put her electric guitar twist on the bass heavy song. Likewise for "Tendons" which featured an eclectic Dafydd deliver a synthesized distorted vocal with his bass.

As expected, The Joy Formidable blew my mind. "The Everchanging Spectrum of Life" was a surprise inclusion, and a good one of that. The lengthy break before the expected encore was excruciating. Word has it that Thomas needed to use the little boy’s room, fair enough. They played the title track from Wolf's Law and then the crowd pleaser "Whirring". Everyone had been waiting for this one, and the Welsh trio never looked like ruing a perfect night of music. Bryan put emphasis on her guitar playing towards the end, same goes for Dafydd and his bass, entering the audience with his guitar. Thomas was the man to end The Joy Formidable's triumphant return to Rescue Rooms with one sweet smack on the gong. The Joy Formidable way of ending a night.

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