Thankfully, my first child arrived the weekend before this gig, allowing me to go along and check out a band who caught my attention at Nottingham’s Dot to Dot festival a few years back, and then grabbed me by the horns upon release of their debut record, The Big Roar, whose title befits its raucous noise. This gig was one of those you don’t really want to end…
Date: February 24, 2012
Venue: Rescue Rooms
Just back from supporting Bloc Party in Europe, and returning from their own sortie on the continent, the Joy Formidable are eager to flex their muscles back on English soil, with Nottingham being the destination for this tour’s starting point.
With a new album to flog – last month’s excellent Wolf’s Law – this sold-out gig is a mixture of their new work and choice cuts from 2011’s The Big Roar, which announced them onto a scene which read “supercharged shoe-gazing rock”. Or something.
From the very off, as recent single Cholla savagely kicks in with its tangled time signatures and Led Zep riffs, it’s clear our cochleas are in for a battering, as brutal rock collides with a pop nous akin to Muse linking arms with Garbage’s Shirley Manson.
Ritzy Bryan (brilliant name, right?) leads the charge; her wit and show-womanship being a major factor in the Welsh group’s fun-time ethos, as they share comical touring tales with the crowd.
She leads her merry men – drummer Matt Thomas and bassist Rhydian Dafydd – through a heavy set of melodically astute and sturdy belters which are crystallised by her glistening vocals.
While the vast majority of their oeuvre is a slurry of heavy-riffing bombast, they do have tender moments, particularly on the Jose Gonzalez-meets-Ellie Goulding tearjerker, Silent Treatment, and Wolf’s Law, which starts as a lolling lullaby and ends in a lycanthropic howl.
But songs like Maw Maw Song demonstrate how the band can erupt but maintain their rhythmic core, and push that Led Zep comparison further.
Fittingly, they end with the urgent sonic swirls of Whirring, their signature tune and crowd favourite, which roars around the room like a deviously fiendish malevolent spirit.
Loud and proud, the Joy Formidable are a formidable force to be reckoned with.