I have to say after seeing them play last night at the sold out show in Vancouver (after missing them a criminal three times), that it was one of the best rock shows I’ve seen. My experience was probably helped by the fact I was centre with only one person standing in front of me, even so, Fran’s joking with the audience and then later entering the audience with the world’s longest mic cable, Andy’s climbing on top of an amp stack while playing a solo, Doug’s good natured pumping on bass and Neil’s banging a gong, made this an excellent show. It’s refreshing to see a band so willing to smile when they’re having a good time. The crowd seemed to pick up on this energy, because it was one of those most agreeable crowds I’ve been in. People would apologize for knocking into you, move aside for your friend and sing along with gusto–way cooler than moshing or standing still looking fashionably bored.
The whole crowd was doing the pogo during the finale, “Why Does it Always Rain on Me”, it was pretty surreal and well worth my limbs crumbling. Despite my yelling for them to play “Battleships”, I had to live with the one disappointment.
I only wish I had the brains to bring a camera! I was in the perfect spot! Fran walked right past me when he entered the audience.
All in all, I was well-impressed, but the t-shirts were overpriced!
it's always a treat seeing the boys do a show. I've been lucky to catch every show they've done in Vancouver. And Saturday's show didn't disappoint. "Chinese Blues" was a great opener.
My highlight was hearing "Driftwood". I'm glad they're still playing some of the older songs. "Selfish Jean" had everyone dancing. When Fran walked through the crowd, at one point, you can hear him say, "I'm married". Back on stage, he proceeded to tell the crowd that over a radio interview, he said that Canadian crowds were more reserved but that while in the crowd tonight, he never had so many hands all over him. Later, he joked that he should go back in.
Fran managed to hit all the high notes in "J. Smith" and they really went crazy during the bridge. As tradition, Andy climbed up on the speaker at one point during the night. Dougie commented on the group of girls up front who all wore "I Heart Dougie" t-shirts and said he liked the shirts.
When all the band members got introduced, Fran got the crowd chanting Klaus' name. They still did the busking-style version of Flowers in the encore; I remember when Fran used to sing it solo without a mic. The only problem tonight was a tech problem with the bass but it got fixed quickly. And the massive pogo dance was so much fun as the floors of the Commodore have old tires underneath.The crowd was great. No massive pushing and singing all around.
“Oh Claes for fu*k’s sake!” Fran Healy shouted at the Swedish keyboardist before breaking into the punchline. “We’re leaving the Madonna song to the end....”
“Actually, that was my fault”. Healy sheepishly admitted seconds later to the mishap, before playing the familiar chords to “Writing to Reach You” amidst a sea of manic cheer and applause.
The witty banter marked the beginning of Travis’s show at the Commodore Ballroom. It was the start of the US/Canada tour for the Glasgow band, and the last leg of a whirlwind touring schedule that lasted for almost a year. Since their last appearance here in Vancouver, Dougie Payne’s become a dad, Neil Primrose had raced at the historic LeMans circuit, and in the short space of a few weeks the band completed their sixth studio album, “Ode to J. Smith”. The first since they parted tenure from Independiente Records, and expectations ran high on how the band would fare without the backing of a major label. With words like “loud”, “edgy”, and “arresting” from the critical praise they received, it seems the mojo is alive and well from over a decade ago, when all they wanted to do was rock.
Great expectations were also present at the Commodore Ballroom after openers the Republic Tigers left the stage, interrupted only by the anticipation. Sneaking a peek at the setlist was a revelation – A mish-mash of crowd favourites with a touch of the new. Moments later the band burst onto the stage and turned on the Travis faithful to “Chinese Blues”, the first song off the new album. Blessed with a few days rest in the city after some magnanimously sized gigs in Mexico, the band were in high spirits to play in smaller venues once again. It was smooth sailing as the band continued to churn one infectious hit after another, hampered only by minor technical issues on Payne’s bass and pedal board and some feedback on Healy’s microphone at the start of “My Eyes” (“Giles Woodhead, you’re a knob”, retorts the frontman). Despite the minor blunders the audience remained hypnotized, gleefully singing along to every word. Healy even serenaded the crowd right on the ballroom floor with the help of an extra-long microphone cord, mingling with surprised concert-goers all the while trying to avoid being felt up. “I’ve never been touched so much in my life,” Healy said after getting back onstage.
Fame and fortune hadn’t dealt away the band’s down-to-earth good nature and cheekiness. Payne, sharply dressed in a polka-dot shirt, frequently picked out faces in the crowd and wooed them to a frenzy with his trademark grin. Andy Dunlop, sporting some wayfarer glasses, was a guitar God all unto his own, determined on finding the tallest amps to climb on and letting out one mean guitar riff after another. Primrose proved to be quite the multi-tasker, hitting the Gong during “Before You Were Young” with seasoned precision and returning back to drumming duties without missing a beat.
Travis are well-known for deviating from playing what’s on the setlist, and tonight was no exception. A last minute change allowed a slot-in of the lava-slow “All I want to do is Rock” midway through their scheduled set. The band had came a long way from the days when Healy borrowed money from his mum to put out that very first single, the single that would eventually launch their career and success spanning over a decade.
After a short break the band returned to the stage with an encore, starting with a rarely-played “3 Times And You Lose”. Then it was the busking-style “Flowers in the Window” with Payne and Dunlop taking over guitar duties halfway, a free-handed Fran gesturing at the astonished crowd. Of course no Travis show would ever be complete without the cult-anthem “Why Does It Always Rain On Me”, accompanied with some pogoing that’s become a habitual practice. On this occasion it was made particularly easy because of the venue’s famously sprung ballroom floor. It also made for an apt and climactic conclusion to the evening.
After an exhaustive touring schedule that will see them on the road for most of April, the band returns home for a much-deserved break before taking the stage again in June, in time for the height of the upcoming festival season.