Sunday, October 06, 2013

Travis returns in stirring concert at the Wiltern

Drummer Neil Primrose and singer-guitarist Fran Healy
Although Travis has never fully been embraced in the U.S., the Scottish band is in good company. Indeed, fellow top-tier 1990s acts such as Elbow, Blur and Keane are longtime legends in their native United Kingdom even while struggling to make a significant commercial dent in America.

Fortunately, that hasn't deterred the post-Britpop outfit from returning from an extended hiatus to issue 2013's superb Where You Stand, the group's first album since  2008's Ode to J. Smith. As evidenced by Travis' fast-moving 95-minute set at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on Friday night (Oct. 4, 2013) , singer-rhythm guitarist Fran Healy, bassist-backing singer Dougie Payne, lead guitarist Andy Dunlop and drummer Neil Primrose are thrilled to be back and so was the large crowd on hand at the Wiltern. 

In fact, from the moment the quartet and a touring keyboardist took to the stage to perform the new cut "Mother" (whose uplifting, rousing chorus includes the apt line "Why Did It Take So Long?" repeated twice), there was a joyous mood in the venue. That's not to say things never got serious; at one point Healy recounted a small child's pain at watching domestic violence play out in his house (via a poignant introduction to the memorable "Re-Offender"), while elsewhere he noted the band had taken the five-year break to raise families. Indeed, "Reminder" (another new tune) was written for Healy's son.

But this was a night most directed at the magical bond that a great band has with its discerning and faithful followers. "It's so good to be back," Healy said in his introduction to "Moving," one of five songs from Where You Stand played this night. That song boasted a driving bass line from Payne, and helped illustrate the magical pull of Travis' groundbreaking sound. The mix of shining melodies, emotive lead vocals and artful musical arrangements performed with a collective adeptness by Travis was a clear reminder how the Glasgow-spawned troupe influenced Coldplay, Keane, Snow Patrol and others that followed.
Travis performed a wide range of its material, dipping back as far as its 1997 debut Good Feeling, and performed the best-known material from The Man Who, The Invisible Band and The Boy with No Name.

The power of  "Driftwood" (with Healy strumming a 12-string guitar), the driving "Where You Stand," undeniable "Writing to Reach You" and Americana textured rocker "Sing" (complete with Dunlop playing banjo on the verses) highlighted the regular set. In a performance of the gentle folk-tinged ballad "Closer," Dunlop used an E-bow on his guitar to further add depth and beauty to the song.

The group's strong encore included the celebrative "Good Feeling",  infectious "Flowers in the Window," rocking "All I Want to Do is Rock" and rousing night-ending sing-along "Why Does it Always Rain on Me." 

Make sure to read George A. Paul's comprehensive and well-written review of the concert on his Music Minded blog by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Drew A. Kelley

Travis' set list at the Wiltern on Friday night, Oct. 4, 2013

Main set: Mother / Selfish Jean / Pipe Dreams / Moving / Love Will Come Through / Driftwood / Warning Sign / Re-Offender / Where You Stand / My Eyes / Reminder / Writing to Reach You / Side / Sing / Closer / Slide Show / Blue Flashing Light / Turn

Encore: Good Feeling / Flowers in the Window / All I Want to Do is Rock / Why Does it Always Rain on Me

1 comment:

newwavegeo said...

An equally good summation of the event.