02 March 2012 (gig)
05 March 2012
Acoustic sets are usually a gimmick or a cheap trick at gigs, something to fill out the time while seemingly doing as little as possible. This isn't always true of course, and there's nothing like an acoustic set for intimacy. The Joy Formidable set the scene sublimely with their 'campfire' moment and took the concept to a whole new level, playing out their finest moments as the crowd swayed along peacefully just inches away.
All of this was only a warm up though, and the best was yet to come. The Joy Formidable are somewhat out of step with their contemporaries in that they don't sound quite like you think they should. Every time you think you have their sound pinned down, they throw in a bit of electro or a bit of folkiness or even heavier rock to confuse you.
Ending up somewhere between the upbeat rhythms of Blondie, and not just because of blonde-haired frontwoman Ritzy Bryan, and the melodic pop of Ellie Goulding. Luckily the mix translates well on stage, and the crowd are quickly stirred into an uproar as the band begin to fire out tracks like 'I Don't Want To See You Like This' and 'Austere', building to the epic 'Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie'.
Ritzy's tortured expressions as her crisp, clean voice fill the room (or, in this case, shed), hint at the passion and enjoyment she takes from performing. Her fellow band members Rhydian Dafydd (bass) and Matt Thomas (drums) share her enthusiasm and all three throw themselves into the musical sections with their entire bodies and then become suddenly subdued as the anarchy calms down again.
Even with a captive crowd at the event, the audience were drawn into the band's spectacle, joining in with their easily followed melodic moments and listening intently as the band teased with new material – reportedly all recorded but not yet mixed, suggesting a release may be due later in the year.
The combination of energy and simplicity through the set was relentless, leaving a sharp intake of breath from onlookers as the band teased with the traditional encore. The finale itself brought the evening's energy to an absolutely nuclear climax, to the extent that the stage took some punishment in the fallout. Cymbals and drums were strewn across the stage as Thomas exploded with energy in the final moments.
A convincing performance which mixed a considered approach, commonly found in bands with far more experience, and anarchic energy of youth to create a captivating display, which undoubtedly left them wanting more.
Gig hosted by Clarks Originals: http://www.clarksoriginals.com/