They’ve been around for a while now, but The Joy Formidable remain a live band of considerable quality, as this memorable performance in Manchester proves.
The Welsh band’s latest tour has taken in intimate club venues across the country, with the feisty support of Demob Happy adding extra punch to each date.
And, equipped with material from new album Hitch – plus a weighty back catalogue of classics from their nine-year history – the trio are good value for money live.
The up-close and personal feel of this tour is a million miles away from The Joy Formidable’s past adventures with the likes of Muse in years gone by.
Manchester’s Club Academy emphasises this greatly, as Demob Happy casually take to the stage via the crowd, although it’s a sparse one as they begin and fails to swell during their performance.
Opening with the excellent ‘Suffer You’, the Brighton band thrash their way through a punk set, with lots of wayward hair and shades of the likes of Drenge.
It’s a good start to the show, albeit far more angry than the headliners will ever be, which perhaps explains the disappointing early doors turn-out.
By the time of the main event, though, the Academy is packed and highly primed for a Saturday evening show.
The Joy Formidable’s new album Hitch has received solid, if not spectacular critical praise, commended by the press but also deemed bereft of new ideas.
But on the evening, only three songs from the new release even feature, as the night starts with ‘Cradle’ from their debut album and ‘Little Blimp’ from sophomore release Wolf’s Law.
‘The Last Thing On My Mind’, from the new album, is nonetheless a highlight – even without the stamp of its potent, not-safe-for-work video.
And while there’s a blip of sorts as Ritzy forgets the words to ‘Silent Treatment’, it’s an all-round enjoyable main set, if a little shorter than might have been expected.
A generous encore makes up for it, with four tracks including ‘Radio of Lips’, ‘Liana’ and ‘Ostrich’, before the closing epic of their most famous work ‘Whirring’.
It’s a wholesome finish to what manages to be, from beginning to end, a highly crowd-pleasing greatest hits set, with something for every fan assembled in Manchester.
And importantly, the band seem to enjoy it too – even though they’re deep into their latest tour.
Bass guitarist Rhydian Dafydd is particularly keen to play to the crowd and his bandmates, while Ritzy herself is smiley, if a little more restrained and chained to her guitar.
Although not longer lavished with the hype of a few years ago, there’s plenty of life in The Joy Formidable yet, and their powerful alternative rock will continue to please.
They make for a good live show, and there’s more dates to come this month in the south of England, including a spot as one of the exclusive cluster of established bands at Brighton’s Great Escape.
Check out our full photo gallery – The Joy Formidable:
All photos by Katy Blackwood