Saturday, 14 February 2009

In Concert: Joy Formidable

Well, it took a wee while, but I finally got there. Carlisle Brickyard is a 'proper' venue - small, intimate, and with a decent history. Quite a few bands have performed there 'before they were famous', so it's a good place to keep your eyes on things. And, when I heard that up-and-coming band The Joy Formidable were due to perform, I decided that if I didn't go I'd regret it. Most unfortunately, there was not bitter on tap from the start of the evening, but providing it was a one off I will let them off on the basis of good music.

The evening started however with The Common Empire. I wasn't expecting much, they're Scottish after all (sorry guys), so after their set was very impressed. I thought at the time I'd heard bits of Blur, Glasvegas, Franz Ferdinand and Madness. Including madness from the lead singer. Jack of Spaces in particular has got that reggae feel. Out of Bounds is loud, raucous, and Indie Rock at its finest. It was thoroughly enjoyable toe-tapping music. Chazz's voice on lead vocals isn't the most tuneful or polished, but I don't think it matters all that much. Would I say they're the next big thing? Well, probably not I'm afraid. But it's good stuff all the same.

Room full of Owls followed up, with a full 6piece ensemble. I think the adverse to the The Common Empire applied here though. It was a very different line-up, I was expecting good things - but for the most part it was the same old music. Enjoyable, good, but nothing special. I was going to write a pretty luke warm review, until they finished their set with Patterns. On the radio, I'm not a huge fan of long instrumentals. But live, they've something completely different. They're an experience to feel the full power behind a band, and - done well - awe inspiring. At the time I wrote "Irish folk with a drum and guitars" to describe the song - listening to it again on myspace I think it's still a decent description, but the recording doesn't get any where near to demonstrating how good that was. I would have bought a CD there and then - but they'd run out. Shame...

Finally, the headliners - Joy Formidable. I've mentioned in the past that they're getting tipped at the minute for big things, and the set did reflect that. Just as with Room full of Owls, some cracking instrumental sections so you can feel the music instead of just listening to it. I decided to try out my the video facility on my new phone instead of lugging over my slightly-better-quality digi-cam, so whilst the quality it pretty crap there's no reason I can't demonstrate how they sounded live with a short clip of what will be their next single (out 16th Feb) - Cradle.

One complaint though was the length of the set. You were just getting into things when it came to an end. My immediate reaction of "more please" wasn't in a good way.It created the impression (wrong, I'm sure) that there wasn't much else to the listen to. What was there though was definitely cracking stuff. Loud, powerful, dynamic indie rock - starting the set as they meant to go on. I would go and see them again, and I think they're a safe bet for future plaudits.

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