15 May 2022 (gig)
16 May 2022
For those who grew up in the era of Britpop domination, Travis are a band who have always been divisive. While their debut album, Feeling Good, set them on a rock-driven path, their mellower subsequent albums, The Man Who and The Invisible Band, saw them reach commercial acclaim but achieve a slight disdain from the more hardcore Britpop fan. However, after a subsequent move into a slightly more art-pop terrain, the group are now looking back and remembering the work that put them firmly on the map. Having previously celebrated the 20th anniversary of the iconic The Man Who, this year they hit the road to celebrate The Invisible Band, which is incredibly turned years old in 2021.
Before the Scottish quartet and festival favourites take to the stage at Birmingham's glorious Symphony Hall, another Britpop stalwart takes to the stage. Although appearing minus his band, Gomez, the stunning vocal of Ben Ottewell fills the auditorium as he celebrates both his band's work past and present, alongside an insight into his under celebrated solo work. A faultless set lasting just 30 minutes left the audience hungry for more.
After an interval, Travis take to the stage suited and booted to reminisce about their multi-Platinum third studio album. With vocalist Fran Healy asking if the audience had studied up, they launch into the unforgettable album opener, Sing. And Sing the audience did as memories flooded back of when they first heard the album and the memories associated with their younger years.
Talking the audience through the album's 12 songs (the bonus tracks from alternative editions were not explored), the innate beauty of the full body of work was reinvigorated in the live setting. Although the singles Sing, Side and Flowers In The Window got the audience bopping, with each song someone else could be heard stating 'this was my favourite' or 'I love this one still'. With notable highlights including Pipe Dreams, Safe and The Humpty Dumpty Love Song, it was the personal connection that really elevated the night. Stopping the show to pay tribute to his Mum, who was attending that night, Fran Healy's introduction to, and subsequent performance of Indefinitely was a raw revelation.
Having relived the album whole, the band had a brief break before celebrating some of their other hits. While newer moments like A Ghost showed the band are still at the peak of the game, it was inevitably the memory trip of Driftwood, Turn and Why Does It Always Rain On Me? that saw the audience of their feet in a collective euphoria.
Travis may have spent their career being met with music snobs deriding their bland nature, but anyone who has taken a moment to actually listen will have realised their commercial acclaim arrived off the back of beautiful lyrics and stunning songcraft. The celebration of The Invisible Band highlights a true gem of an album. A magical evening.