Live Review: Travis @ The Lexington.
Travis are probably not the first band that springs to mind in 2016, but with their eight studio album, Everything at Once, set for release on the 29th April, the band are still exerting themselves on the music scene. This week saw the BRIT award winners play two back-to-back shows on the same night at north London’s intimate The Lexington.
It’s been almost 20 years since the four-piece, led by frontman Fran Healy on vocals and guitar, released their debut album Good Feeling. Mainstream success quickly followed which drew both new fans and critics in equal measure. Some enjoyed their melodic pop rock and championed them with having led the way from Britpop to a new era in British rock, whilst others felt their music to be too safe. The dizzy heights of success may have faded in recent years, but original members Dougie Payne (bass guitar and vocals), Andy Dunlop (lead guitar and banjo) and Neil Primrose (drums) remain with Healy today.
Introducing the second of the two shows that evening, Healy declared that this was the main show and asked if anyone had attended the first. When about half the crowd hollered, he promised to mix up the set for the second show. Combining old with new, the Glaswegian group treated the sell-out 200-capacity crowd of mostly hard core fans to snippets of the album to come, alternating between classic hits including Writing to Reach You and a banjo assisted Sing.
Healy’s vocals and energy on stage remain strong as he switched between guitars for every song on the tiny stage. Kicking off the set with the title track from the new album Everything at Once, the upbeat pop rock sound that defined the band is ever present. The audience were then delighted to be catapulted back to 1999 for tracks Writing to Reach You and Driftwood from the No. 1 selling album The Man Who.
Healy then announced that they had spent Burns Night playing the Roadmenders venue in Northampton. “We were shitting ourselves, it was the first gig” he admitted before showing his age by suggesting things had changed since the last time they toured. “Funny, selfie sticks have popped up everywhere, which I guess is helpful for the short people. Actually, we should do gigs just for tall people, and then another gig just for short people. Like the rides at Alton Towers, there would be a height chart!” he jested, enticing laughter from the audience.
The 16-song set continued with Paralysed, a short punchy track with intense sound from the new album. Animals followed, which song-writer Healy informed us was written about mating, going to on suggest that present-day Tinder dating “is not like when I was a boy, when Britpop was big and we had to go down the Mixer”.
3 Miles High looks set to be the stand-out track from the new album, a fun and uplifting record which features backing vocals from Norwegian pop-singer Aurora on the studio version.
Healy, having aged but looking trim with a grey beard, kept his word and made the promised set change towards the end, playing Good Feeling at the request of the crowd. Introducing the track, he recalled his nerves playing this back in ’95 on their first Later with Jools Holland appearance, which they shared with pop icon Lionel Richie.
The band finished as predicted, with the song that propelled them to stardom at the turn of the century thanks to the skies opening up at precisely the right moment during their 1999 Glastonbury headline set. Why Does it Always Rain on Me concluded what was an uplifting set brimming with nostalgia.
However, whether the band’s latest resurgence can rouse anything other than nostalgia I am not sure, but they will do as they do and continue doing what they enjoy. Good for them.
The new album Everything at Once is released on the 29th April. They have also announced a 9-night UK tour starting on May 6th.
Words by Lauren Patel and photos by Kalpesh Patel. Kalpesh has more music photography up on his Flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate
The full set here on the RockShot Photography Archive:http://rockshot.photoshelter.com/gallery/Travis/G0000Yi3tLC2KSog