After a 3-year absence, Travis were back in Belfast. And given the response from an enthusiastic Waterfront audience, it was a very warm welcome, on a not-so-warm June day.
The band, as is always the case nowadays, entered the venue from the back of the crowd and fought their way through the masses to the Rocky theme. Being the avid fan that i am, i already knew they'd be doing this, and given the puzzled looks from people behind me wondering why i was turned round to look at the back of the hall even before the house lights had gone down, it seems i was the only one near me who knew! After what seemed like an eternity, the band arrived onstage and launched straight into Selfish Jean.
It seemed that it took the Belfast crowd a while to warm up, but from the off i was very much into the gig- as is usually the case when i'm front row at a Travis gig! Following Jean, Eyes Wide Open, WTRY, Love Will Come Through and As You Are (which was awesome- a highlight) came and went without a hitch, before it was time for the first hiccup of the night. At the start of My Eyes, Neil missed his cue and forgot to start playing. In true Travis style, Fran made light of it and introduced Mr Neil Primrose, with just a hint of sarcasm.
After My Eyes, it was time for the return of Re-Offender. Despite my views on this song being not one of my favourites, i'd forgotten what a punch it packs when it's played live. It was one of the best received songs of the evening and was certainly one of the biggest singalongs of the night.
After Side and Driftwood, it was time for Cleas to take his moment. Despite the whole room pointing and chanting his name, he delivered what is the best Good Feeling piano solo i have heard yet on this tour. Well done Cleas!
Throughout the show, Fran was very talkative with the audience- praising the 'Celt' ability to clap along in time to the songs. Dougie even managed to get a word in, which often isn't the case.
Closer seemed gianormous tonight, and Sing was pretty powerful as well. But my highlight of the whole night was Battleships. I think it's my favourite song on 'The Boy', and it was quite a moving performance. I was almost reduced to tears at its' awesome beauty and fragility, but i kept it together. Thanks Fran for putting it in the setlist- at long last!
Comedy moment of the gig, yet again, goes to Mr Andy Dunlop. Now, we all know that the All I Want To Do Is Rock solo is his big moment. In previous gigs i've seen him wander the stage holding the guitar in one hand, attempt to climb the speaker stack, ascend his own Orange amps, and wander off into the crowd- but crowd-surfing was a first for me! And again, he struggled- just like he did getting back onto the stage recently in Edinburgh. Eventually, he got up and was passed back a few rows before he had to scramble back on stage before the end of the song. Another comedy moment was during Turn, when one of his Antellope-like leaps almost didn't land successfully. He landed on the side of his foot and half-stumbled, looked up at me and winked- although you could see the fear in his face!
Yet again, it was a lovely gig for the band acknowledging my attendance. Near the start of the gig, Fran saw me, winked and pointed his guitar at me. Andy was smiling and singing to me throughout the show, and i even got a wee nod from Neil. Dougie didn't see me until Why Does It Always Rain On Me, and when he was walking off stage at the end he gave me a special wave, and i could see that he said "Hey Paul". Just lovely!
When the band came back on after Turn, they 'busked' Flowers In The Window- Fran singing, and the other band members (Cleas included) huddled round to sing the chorus. For the last chorus, Andy played the guitar from behind Fran whilst he clapped along. It was a lovely touch, and just shows that Travis are just a band of friends! Up next was the welcome return of The Humpty Dumpty Love Song- probably one of my favourites. It was awesome tonight- thanks for bringing it back guys!
And finally, Why Does It Always Rain On Me... As usual, the bounciest song of the set (even my Mum was pogo-ing!) and Fran got everyone in the room to stand up, and jump about for the final chorus. He even incouraged the normally sour-faced security staff to have a go! It was a great ending to a more than great gig!
All in all, a pretty awesome night. Nothing can beat Travis when they play at the Barrowlands- but Belfast certainly isn't very far behind!
the boys done well,what a great gig this really was,after seeing travis at the odessey a few years ago i left that night thinking that i had just seen one of the best concerts i would ever see,but when my wife decided to surprise me with tickets for the return of the boys i have to say i was a bit sceptical after seeing oasis and manics twice and being dissapointed with both second time round i got the feeling that lightning may strike again,but this was a truly magnificent performance,from the off the entrance was superb entering the arena from the back to the sounds of the rocky theme blasting through the pa this was indeed the return of a true heavyweight of the british music scene,the first song was the shamelessly lust for life soundalike selfish jean,an absoloute barnstormer of a song,the crowd were more than receptive to see the return of the guys and this was remarked upon as fran the man commented on the bond between celts(although the "Healy" chant was a bit lost on him)the band played a mix of new favourites and old classics,highlight had to be turn although the new song "Battleship" was outstanding also. Andy's crowd surf almost ending in a trip to casualty and neil's lapse aside this was a great gig and as fran said people coming out to see live music is what its all about,this is what i have been saying for years especially with a band like travis,a lot of people may say "oh yeah ,they aren't bad" and true I've never heard a travis album and been blown away like i was after hearing def maybe or urban hymms but as for a live act i would now go as far as saying that travis are the finest live act we have ever produced as they are in love with their audience,their music and as frans t-shirt said most importantly jaffa cakes.going to see razorlight and snow patrol later this year but i doubt very much that they will live up to this.for all those seeing the rest of the tour enjoy! i know you will.
Fantastic gig! Travis at their best! Have been on a music high ever since. Love the new album especially 'My Eyes'. I was there with my son and it struck a chord in my heart.
You were right Fran. My legs and shins were sore the next day after pogo-ing to 'Why Does it Always Rain on Me' but it was worth it!
Thanks a million Travis for a wonderful and memorable night! Haste ye back to Beal Feirste!