Sunday 1 October 2023

The Joy Formidable, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

There is a very packed stage equipment wise for support act The People Versus and there are effects pedals everywhere. So many trip hazards. Do health and safety know? I hope the band are small in number but oh no. There are six of them and at the end of their set they do freely acknowledge that not many bands will take a six piece support.  

In Alice Edwards they have a strong singer but who seems a bit indifferent to the crowd or perhaps this is just self-deprecating humour. This does take the edge off what is bouncy and fun performance but they seem more genuine by the end.

From a packed stage to a very stripped back setup for the threesome that are The Joy Formidable on the last date of their UK tour. There is even more space on stage for lead vocalist\guitarist Rhiannon Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd with their unconventional set up that sees drummer Matt Thomas positioned sideways on at the front corner of the stage rather than tucked away at the back. This was a nice dynamic but I think they've always done this. For me there’s no substitute for seeing a band up close and in full flow so this is ideal as you rarely get to see the drummer so close up.

I confess that it's been a while since I last saw them. Having followed them closely right from when they started in 2007, I haven't actually seen them live since 2010. I have missed out because they've always been, well, formidable live and, as I soon discover, they still are.

The Rescue Rooms isn't full but it's busy and it's quite an old crowd as well. Perhaps they've all been in from the start. Unfortunately things have never really taken off for the band. Despite regularly securing decent support slots and doing quite well in the States they've never been able to move on from relatively small venues in this country. Tonight that is to benefit of everyone who's here. 

After starting with 'Caught on a Breeze', 'Sevier' and 'Ostrich' they finally pause for breath and the first of many long rambling chats ensues. These are occasionally with the audience but mostly among themselves. One of these before playing 'Into The Blue' turns to how much Covid affected a touring band such them and then somehow in to a discussion about sheds. 

We get some of the 'hits' such as 'Whirring' and 'Cradle' then they play a Welsh language song called 'Y Garreg Ateb' (the Answering Stone), which was a total belter, and then an acoustic version of 'I Don’t Want To See You Like This' before they close with their new single 'Share My Heat'.

They return to play 'Little Blimp' and then the slow-burning 'Left Too Soon', which seems apt as a show closer.

They are still formidable and still deserve to be much better known than they are. 

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