Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Travis blows the roof off the House of Blues

Travis frontman Francis Healy, shown here performing in Switzerland in August 2007, and the rest of the Scottish band delivered a stirring performance Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007, at the House of Blues in Anaheim.

Story originally posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007

Travis' opening at the House of Blues in Anaheim on Saturday night (Nov. 24, 2007) may have been one of the most appropriate in recent history. The house lights went dark and the recorded theme music from the movie "Rocky" was played over the sound system as spotlights suddenly revealed the members of Travis walking from the rear of the venue through the crowd dressed in colorful, Las Vegas-ready boxing robes.

The theatrical opening was not lost on the capacity crowd, which cheered loudly as the Scottish band made it to the stage.

The group opened with several strong cuts from 2007's "The Boy With No Name," both "Selfish Jean" and "Eyes Wide Open" providing the explosive one-two punch to drive the point that Travis is back.
In the late 1990s, Travis appeared to be poised to be a major force in rock. But after the success of "The Man Who" (armed with gems such as "Driftwood" and "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?"), Coldplay released "Parachutes" in 2000 and the rest – as they say – is history.
It didn't help Travis' case that 2003's "12 Memories" lacked the magic of 1999's "The Man Who" and 2001's "The Invisible Band."

But thanks to the group's solid appearance at Coachella in April and a consequent marathon-length tour (the members joked Anaheim was somewhere between stops 83 and 85), the band is better than ever.

Over the course of 23 songs, Travis proved it is not only ready to rumble, but can truly go the distance. Reflective rockers such as "Side," "Closer" and "Sing" showcased the band's love of powerful melancholy, with singer Fran Healy using his wonderful voice to bring beauty and emotion to every line.

Although the majority of songs were not offered up in ways dramatically different from on Travis' studio recordings, the enthusiastic audience packed in on both levels of the venue provided a dramatic element to the concert. "As You Are" attained the rage of an Oasis rocker, with guitarist Andy Dunlop hammering his guitar as much as strumming it.

The group's lengthy encore was particularly interesting, highlights being an acoustic and vocal harmony-heavy "Flowers in the Window" and night-ending "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" that had everyone in the crowd singing along without the customary bullying from the band (usually pointing a microphone out into the crowd).

Maximo Park opened the show with an energetic 50-minute set that clearly impressed those who arrived in time to catch the outfit's lively rock that is in tune with many of the '00s most successful indie artists from across The Pond.
The five-man group recalls Franz Ferdinand's rapid-fire rock and that worked well in a live setting, with songs such as "Girls Who Play Guitar," "The Unshockable" and the set-closing "Our Velocity" offering solid punk rock-paced songs that were even more dexterous than the group's studio recordings.
The Newcastle quintet did hit a sonic drive out of the Mouse House with a strong performance of the original song "Books From Boxes," which showcased guitarist Duncan Lloyd and offered a more melancholy sound than the rest of the material.

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