Live : Travis @ The Forum, Kentish Town

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Fran Healy, Travis at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

I think its fair to say that Fran Healy likes a guitar; I wasn’t counting but it did appear that the Travis lead singer pretty much swapped guitars every song through tonight’s performance. This is in no way a criticism, but it does demonstrate that the bands trusted reliance on a variety of stringed instruments to create their jangly breezy hooks shows no sign of abating, a fact that will have probably delighted most of tonight’s audience. And given the reaction they got, I don’t blame them for sticking with it. Whether it’s the older classics like Driftwood, or the current singalong single, Magnificent Times, a Travis concert seems to have the power to uplift and induce a euphoric state in the room that’s hard to ignore.

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

That said, it wasn’t all plain sailing, opening as it did with a cinema-esque showing of videos from their latest album. It started well with plenty of laughs and singing from those that knew the lyrics, but by the fifth or sixth video they were starting to get a little restless and when the band finally did come on, I think we were all rather relieved.

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

However, this was the only blip in an otherwise uplifting evening and as they launched into the opener from the new album What Will Come (complete with a high-rise backdrop mimicking the albums artwork) there was a wave of affection for the band that was quite palpable.   From then on it was an evening of both new and old songs mixed together in a really strong and seamless set, and it’s a mark of the strength of the new material such as the more raucous Radio Song, and 3 Miles High, that they held their own against some of the well known material.

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Given they’ve been around the patch, Travis clearly know how to seize the moment, and there was a definite notching up about 6 songs in tonight as they moved seamlessly from new track Animals into the monster worldwide hit Driftwood. Whether it was an intentional attention grabber who knows, but suddenly the crowd made the jump from happy to euphoric and the rest of the evening was a doddle for the band.

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Older tracks such as Writing to Reach You and my all time favourite of theirs, Side were all given the sing-along treatment and there was also a nice mid-set opportunity for Fran to duet with Josephine Oniyama for one of the quieter new tracks Idlewild. High spot for the lucky few in the standing section was definitely the rendition of Where You Stand, a track taken from the 2013 album of the same name, during which Fran made his way into the crowd, eventually being lifted onto someone’s shoulders to complete the rest of the song from there. It was a proper “record this on your phone” moment for many, and also conveniently distracted people from the setting up of guitarist Andy Dunlop’s banjo for the next track, Sing.

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Needless to say this had the whole of the Forum in full voice, which continued for much of the rest of the set especially on 3 Miles High and the anthemic closer Turn. An encore was obligatory (given they hadn’t yet played THAT song), but it was generous 4 song extension which included Flowers in the Window, Magnificent Times , complete with dancing, and of course the Glastonbury anthem, Why Does It Always Rain on Me.

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

So at the end of the evening I’m left wondering. Not about Travis’s music, but the attitude of some in the music press who have an obsession with bands having to move on and re-invent themselves in order to remain credible and get their stamp of approval. What I saw tonight was a band who delivered exactly what the crowd wanted in spades, and whilst the new material was in there, the whole set was glued together in a classic “put your arms around someone you’ve never met and sing along” sort of way. I saw portly 40 year olds, singing next to 20 year olds and a venue of people all with smiles on their faces.

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

Travis raising the roof at The Forum, Kentish Town, London (Andy Sampson)

For me, change is fine if you’re uncertain of your place in the world, but when you can still deliver the classic indie singalong and generate that sort of feeling, I am happy that Travis stay just where they are.

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Live review and photographs of Travis @ The Forum Kentish Town by Andy Sampson on 9th May

Andy also has his own site here : www.soundritualphotos.co.uk

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