The streets surrounding the Astoria, in London's West End, were packed with TV production trucks and BT vans, which could only mean one thing - Travis were being beamed live to Japan! Arriving at 11am for the soundcheck, the band were greeted by fans already forming a queue for the gig which didn't open for another 2 hours! Once inside, they worked hard to get a perfect sound, whilst the TV crews practiced their camera angles and lighting.
On the stroke of 2pm, the transmission started with a camera coming in from Tottenham Court Road and into the Astoria as the band ran onstage! With a quick "Konichiwa" from Fran, they launched into "All I Wanna Do Is Rock". Although the crowd were a little quiet - probably due to the gig being mid-afternoon - they were soon cheering and clapping!!
"Village Man" sounded exceptional live, and Dougie's vocal on "Turn" received the cheer from the crowd which it rightly deserved. With Andy putting in some blisteringly tight guitar work, and Neil keeping a steady beat at the back of the stage, this was Travis at their finest.
Andy threw his yellow Gibson L6-S into the air at the end of "Happy", and the band left the stage in a howl of feedback. Fran returned to sing the magical "Flowers In The Window", and was then re-joined by the others for the finale of "The Blue Flashing Light".
Anyone would've thought our rather knackering trip to Newquay would've been enough, but only two days later, yep, we were off again! This time, luckily, it was only as far as London to Travis' free gig at the Astoria. Bit of a wierd one, this! For a start it was mid-afternoon, there was no support act and the whole thing was being filmed for Japanese tv, so instead of their usual raucous entrance, Fran simply wandered onstage and greeted us all in Japanese! Is there no end to this man's talents?!
The gig was kind of mellow all round, mainly due to the time of day, but it certainly made a nice change. Being in the front row, it was nice, for a change, to be able to enjoy the likes of 'Blue Flashing Light', 'Happy', etc, without living in the fear that a strapping bloke wearing steel toe capped DMs may well be about to land on our heads*!!
It was a fantastic show, and we felt proud we'd attended the gig that would hopefully lead to Travis breaking in Japan.
Afterwards, as always, the band stopped to chat with the thirty or so fans that had gathered outside the venue, despite the fact that after a blisteringly hot morning, it was now raining (ok boys, this isn't funny anymore!). We must have caused a bit of amusement for the tourists wandering down Charing Cross road, especially as we all watched in horror as Dougie, standing signing autographs in the road having been forced off the pavement by the heaving mass of fans, was narrowly missed by a speeding London bus!! It's true, they risk their lives for us fans, Travis do!!:-D
*Editing this review today in 2004, it's hard to remember the carnage that used to take place at the Travis gigs of old. Now we're older we prefer the more relaxed atmosphere but back then, it seemed to be raaawwwk from start to finish!!!;)
All I Want To Do Is Rock
Writing To Reach You
As You Are
Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
Good Day To Die
More Than Us
Flowers In The Window
Blue Flashing Light