On Tuesday night Katie journeyed back in time to watch Scottish rockers Travis play their celebrated album The Man Who in full to a sold-out crowd at The Royal Festival Hall in London – time to party like it’s 1999!
Following well-received headline shows at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and On Blackheath Festival last September, Travis announced earlier this year that they would be bringing The Man Who back to the stage for a limited run of dates this June and December. Released nineteen years ago, The Man Who went on to be one of the most successful British albums of the last twenty years, and spawned some of Travis’s most well-known singles; “Writing To Reach You”, “Driftwood”, “Turn”, and of course the band’s most iconic song “Why Does It Always Rain On Me”.
I think everyone has one band growing up that really got them into music, and for me that band was Travis. I was a mere fifteen years old when The Man Who was released – even just seeing the artwork instantly transports me back to those days. Despite now being over twice the age I was when the album came out and my music taste having changed quite dramatically over the past nineteen years (plus battling the remnants of a hangover from the MetalHammer Golden Gods the previous evening), I was really looking forward to seeing what was one of my favourite albums being played live by the band who meant so much to me when I was younger.
The tour started last night in Liverpool and tonight was the first of two shows at the 2,500 capacity auditorium of Grade I listed Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank. Continuing the theme of late nineties / early naughties rock, opening proceedings were London folk-rock band Turin Brakes. The band’s 2001 debut album The Optimist was one that I remember very fondly from my school-days, and it was great to finally get to see the band live after all these years. Turin Brakes played a great set including tracks from from their ninth studio album Invisible Storm (released earlier this year), together with some of their most well-known songs including “Underdog (Save Me)” from The Optimist, and “Pain Killer” from their 2003 album Ether Song.
With The Man Who album artwork displayed behind them, Travis took to the stage to rapturous applause from the crowd at around 8:45pm, and launched straight into the album’s opening track (and one of my personal favourites) “Writing To Reach You”. The band had dressed to impress with bassist Dougie and guitarist Andy looking very dapper in suits, vocalist Fran in black kilt and black t-shirt, whilst drummer Neil was also dressed smartly in black.
Front-man Fran initially kept the chat to a minimum as the band played through the first half of the album with barely a pause, but later on in their set he preceded some of the songs with humorous anecdotes, including the time he played “Luv” for Liam Gallagher… and made him cry! Despite the auditorium being entirely seated, some of the band’s more up-beat tracks such as “Turn” got the audience off their feet, and the atmosphere throughout the show was great.
After Travis had performed all ten tracks from The Man Who, the album artwork backdrop fell to the ground to reveal rotating blue lights as the band played the album’s hidden track “Blue Flashing Light” – by far the heaviest track in their repertoire and one I always enjoy seeing live. Travis then went on to play a section of hits and fan favourites from the their extensive back-catalogue including “Sing” and “Flowers In The Window” from The Invisible Band (2001), and “Good Feeling” from the band’s 1997 debut album of the same name.
I was a little surprised that they didn’t play any tracks from their most recent studio album Everything at Once (2016), but the show was a fantastic celebration of the band’s earlier work. They ended their triumphant set with their cover of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time”, followed by “Happy” from their debut album, which was the perfect end to a wonderful evening.
For details of Travis’s June tour, summer festival dates and December tour head to their website.
Photos to be added shortly
- Writing To Reach You
- The Fear
- As You Are
- The Last Laugh of the Laughter
- Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
- She’s So Strange
- Slide Show
- Blue Flashing Light
- Love Will Come Through
- Last Train
- Good Feeling
- My Eyes
- Flowers In The Window
- All I Want To Do Is Rock
- Baby One More Time (Britney Spears cover)