Live music review – Travis live at The Roadmender, Northampton, 25/01/2016

Setlist
Everything At Once
Writing To Reach You
Love Will Come Through
Driftwood
Paralysed
Side
Re-Offender
Animals
Where You Stand
Three Miles High
More Than Us
Closer
Turn
Flowers in the Window
Sing
Blue Flashing Light

Encore
Good Feeling
Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Back in 1999, Travis were on top of the world. They’d enjoyed moderate success with their debut album ‘Good Feeling’, but with ‘The Man Who…’ they had become relentlessly popular. Songs such as ‘Writing To Reach You’, ‘Turn’, ‘Driftwood’ and ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ were hard to avoid that summer, and they cemented their success with a glorious headlining slot at Glastonbury in 2000.

They may not still be considered mainstream, but those that have stuck with them know their form has never really dropped. The intervening years have given us a plethora of excellent album releases, from the radio-friendly ‘The Invisible Band’ in 2001, through the politically-driven ’12 Memories’ in 2003 to ‘Where You Stand’ in 2013, which is arguably their strongest set to date. Indeed, only 2008’s ‘Ode to J. Smith’ failed to trouble the top five of the UK album charts, showing that the plentiful die-hard fans kept coming back for more.

With 2016 promising new album ‘Everything at Once’, and with a couple of well-received singles in the bag, Travis decided to go out on a mini-tour to road-test the new material for these fans. I was there for the first of these gigs, at the Roadmender in Northampton, to catch their return to the stage.

The 850-strong crowd were in fine voice as they smashed their way through the first handful of songs. Opening with new track ‘Everything At Once’ was a brave move that paid off and it has already clearly been well received. However, it wasn’t until ‘Writing To Reach You’ kicked in that the audience really got going. A couple more hits followed before the next new track ‘Paralysed’ was given its first airing. It sounded good but singer Fran Healy admitted it would take five or six listens before any new material would truly sink in.

With an audience such as this – most were members of the mailing list that had been tipped-off about a ticket pre-sale – the more obscure songs will always be appreciated. Both ‘More Than Us’ and ‘Good Feeling’ from their debut album received huge cheers, as did ‘Blue Flashing Light’ as it closed the main set. It was this set closer that proved to be perhaps the highlight of the night, clearly now a fan favourite despite being buried as a secret track on ‘The Man Who…’.

And so the night came to a close with their signature song ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’, sung at full volume by everyone present. It was a night for Travis to get back into the swing of things in safe and welcoming surroundings, knowing they would receive a much-deserved warm response from their most dedicated fans. They are set to take their new album on the road this summer (an announcement is set to be made tomorrow morning at 7am). Whilst they might not win any new fans over, they certainly won’t disappoint those already converted.

James Bay live at the Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury Festival, 26th June 2015

Setlist:

Collide
Craving
When We Were On Fire
If You Ever Want to Be in Love
Need The Sun To Break
Let It Go
Scars
Move Together
Best Fake Smile
Get Out While You Can
If I Ain’t Got You
Hold Back the River

On 28th June 2013 I went to see Jake Bugg perform a set on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival. As the hot new acoustic folk kid on the block, there was a lot of anticipation around his performance. He walked out boldly, with just himself and a guitar, and launched into the romantic “Fire”. As the set progressed, it became increasingly obvious that he wasn’t going to interact with the audience. Indeed, his body language just didn’t have any command to it. Whilst he had the tunes, he didn’t have the charisma to fill such a big stage.

Two years on, 2015’s JB found himself in a similar situation. He has been something of a revelation this year – he has been playlisted frequently on both BBC Radio 1 and 2 and his last few singles have all troubled the Top 40 in the UK.

As he performed album track “Collide”, however, I couldn’t help but feel concerned that he might be swallowed up as well. Then the crowd erupted, he shot out a smile and all was well. It was a fantastic moment.

From start to finish he blew away a rammed Pyramid Stage with some breathtaking vocals and subtly restrained guitars. He’s clearly very popular and it’s easy to see why, especially when around 60,000 people are singing every word back to him on “Take Back The River” and “Let It Go”. For someone who was largely unknown a year ago he clearly has what it takes to command the largest of audiences. [1]

Well done sir, you were fantastic.

[1] Ironically Bay’s biggest hit “Hold Back The River”, which hit number 2 earlier this year, was co-written with Bugg’s regular collaborator Iain Archer, along with half of his debut album. Small world, eh?

Paul Weller live at the Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury Festival, 28th June 2015

Setlist:

White Sky
The Changingman
From the Floorboards Up
I’m Where I Should Be
Long Time
That’s Entertainment
Above the Clouds
Saturn’s Pattern
Going My Way
Friday Street
Porcelain Gods
Broken Stones
You Do Something to Me
Start!
Peacock Suit
Whirlpool’s End
Town Called Malice

Well, there we have it. Another year of good-hearted, fun-loving live music done and dusted as Glastonbury 2015 comes to a close. All the flaws my body has developed over its first thirty years have come to the surface and I am out of both alcohol and money. It has been emotional.

The highlight set on the Sunday was a crowd-pleasing effort from Paul Weller. With a career spanning 40 years he had plenty to go on and the song selection was spot on.

Fittingly, he opened the set with a storming rendition of “White Sky”, the lead track from the new album Saturn’s Pattern. It’s a great song, though I don’t think I was alone in the crowd wondering whether the set was just going to be full of songs from his recently-released album.

This concern was put to bed with second track “The Changingman”. It immediately got the packed crowd singing along and on-side and truly kicked-off a night of fun with The Who just around the corner.

Indeed, the mid-nineties tracks he played – including “Peacock Suit”, “Broken Stones”, “Friday Street”, “Porcelain Gods” and “You Do Something To Me” – were only the tip of the iceberg. Whilst The Style Council were completely bypassed, he found space for three of The Jam’s biggest hits: “Start!”, “That’s Entertainment” and “Town Called Malice”.

The highlight for me was “Above The Clouds”, a track from his eponymous debut solo album. It has always been a favourite of mine and the rendition here was one of the highlights of a very special festival.

His voice didn’t even have a hint of cracking at any point, which bodes well for a long future of touring yet, something not possible for every artist that has been around for as long as Mr Weller. It was also nice to see Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Cradock on stage with him again.

Well done sirs. It was a stunning set.

Suede live at the John Peel Stage, Glastonbury, 27th June 2015

Main Setlist:
Pantomime Horse
Moving
Trash
Animal Nitrate
We Are the Pigs
Killing of a Flashboy
It Starts and Ends With You
He’s Dead
Pale Snow
I Don’t Know How to Reach You
The Living Dead
The Drowners
So Young
Metal Mickey
Beautiful Ones

Encore:
She’s in Fashion (acoustic)
New Generation

Today was the big day. Kanye West arrived at Glastonbury with his own brand of Yeezus-y goodness, set to wow the crowds and berate anyone who tried to stop him. Probably. I didn’t go to his crappy set because I was too busy being blown away by a breathtaking performance from Suede on the John Peel Stage. Brett Anderson had the audience in the palm of his hand and the whole band were on top tight form from start to finish. I’d waited for 15 years to actually see them live and it was well worth the wait.

I first got into Suede in 2000 when my first proper girlfriend bought me three Suede albums for my birthday. I didn’t know much about them outside the then-recent hit singles “Electricity” and “She’s In Fashion”, but she was a huge fan and I thought I’d go along with it. After all she was slightly older than me and seemed to know a lot more about music (and life) than me. Whilst the relationship sadly didn’t last much longer, those three albums (the Bernard Butler ones, if you’re interested) stuck with me for a long time through to the end of my education and subsequent career.

So it was a thrilling moment when Suede took to the stage and burst into “Pantomime Horse” and then “Moving” from their eponymous debut album. The fact they were crowd-pleasers shows how much of an impact that debut has had over the years, given both were actually album tracks. Brett Anderson looked as fit as he did when they first appeared on the Glastonbury line-up some 22 years ago. The years have withered neither the angst in his eyes nor the emotional electricity of the performances. He owned the stage in a way so few performers manage.

The next song was “Trash”, a timeless slice of outsider pop rock. They absolutely nailed it, the crowd went ballistic and the band used it as a platform to launch into a string of huge hits (and noted b-side “Killing of a Flashboy”), sporadically taken from various points of their career. It was a sight to behold and has fortunately been captured beautifully by the BBC who have turned a intoxicating live performance into a cinematic work-of-art.

Not many songs featured that post-date 1996 album Coming Up. Of those that did, “She’s In Fashion” stood out as particularly poignant. In its altered form as an slow acoustic song in the encore, the focus shifted more to the lyrics and melody in a way that was hidden by the oddly aged production of the original album recording.

“Pale Snow” and “I Don’t Know How To Reach You”, both new songs yet to be released, hinted at a lot of promise for the future material and will have the Suede fans around the world buzzing with interest. The former is a slightly sparse song built around a repeating guitar riff by Richard Oakes, whilst the latter has a slightly fuller sound and a catchy chorus that sits it alongside the great work they put out some twenty years ago.

For all the excitement around hearing their new material, being floored by a stunning rendition of “Beautiful Ones” will doubtless be one of the lasting memories of this festival for me and the many 1000s inside the rammed tent. It was a long wait but well worth it. If only Kanye could have been there to see it.