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Gig review

The Joy Formidable

They say good things come in threes and for Welsh rock trio The Joy Formidable, this couldn’t be truer. Living in the area, residents would be forgiven for thinking an earthquake had hit Glasgow’s West End as the band attempt to bring Oran Mor to its knees from the basement upwards.
Having been touring relentlessly since the release of their sophomore album Wolf’s Law in January, life on the road is taking its toll on front woman Ritzy Bryan. Her vocals are a little more subdued than usual as she struggles to belt out the lyrics but what she lacks in vocal ability, she more than makes up for in her enthralling stage presence and the wall of distortion she creates.
It can often take a while for an audience to get into new material, but brand new tracks from Wolf’s Law go down an absolute storm with the Glasgow crowd who instantly adopt the likes of the strong and assertive Cholla, the lush pop rock of ‘This Ladder Is Ours’ and ‘Maw Maw Song’ with its sleazy riff, as their new live favourites.
Even those casual spectators at the back begin to let loose with older numbers such as the bright and blissful ‘Austere’, ‘Cradle’ and ‘I Don’t Want To See You Like This’. A very rare performance of early track ‘While The Flies’ goes down particularly well among the more hardcore fans in the audience.
As always, The Joy Formidable’s onstage banter is top notch, bringing everything back down to earth between their stratospheric tunes. Ritzy spends her time in between songs casually engaging with the audience or telling off bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas for carrying on “like an old married couple”.
The set is then brought to a pre-encore close with the beautifully atmospheric ‘The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie’, leaving the crowd hungry for more. “One more tune,” they chant, but this little power trio have far more to deliver.
Taking to the stage once again, the band begin their encore with boisterous new track ‘Forest Serenade’ and grand instrumental ‘Wolf’s Law’, giving Ritzy’s vocals a short but well deserved rest before ending with ultimate crowd favourite ‘Whirring’, with its riff-laden outro which is longer than the song itself.
Rhydian decides to surf the crowd and, despite the cramped surrounding, does so rather successfully. Ritzy returns from some crowd interaction at the barrier minus her guitar, deciding, as she grabs another, that it is time for a crowd versus band riff-off. Her red Fender Strat is held up by the crowd who clutch at its strings as Ritzy and co continue playing.
By this point, Oran Mor is trembling, the sound is very loud and pretty horrendous (the Glasgow crowd, despite their evident love of music, are pretty tone deaf, let’s be honest) but it is the atmosphere, the spectacle and, most importantly, being part of the experience in that moment that makes the whole thing so much fun.
They may have supported top bands in arenas across the world but their constant smiles throughout the night show that, for this band, nothing beats playing to a small but mighty crowd that is truly appreciative of their music. All that’s left to say is let the tinnitus commence.