Ruth's Manuvas


My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

The Joy Formidable: Leicester O2 Academy 2 – Sunday 13 February


Matt, Ritzy, and Rhydian

With the build up to The Joy Formidable’s debut album and first headline tour lasting longer than the entire shelf life of some bands, this push could’ve been mistimed. But the threesome’s immaculate maelstrom of noise at Leicester’s O2 Academy 2 shows their ‘Big Roar’ hasn’t arrived even a moment too late.

Fairy lights and chimes acted as a clever disguise for The Ever Changing Spectrum of a Lie’s wall of sound that hit. If reactions to this and the other new tracks on debut album, The Big Roar had been muted at first, opinions were overturned after only a few seconds of see-sawing guitars, spat out, diction-perfect lyrics, and rib cage-shaking drums.

Chilling cackles introduced blistering paced, The Magnifying Glass – a track with complexities that exposed how tight the band has become – both musically and personally. The grumbling bass and familiar chorus of “aaahhhh aah ahh”s introduced Austere, which although delivered with polish didn’t spoil the band’s personality, as they reacted to the crowd’s ecstasy with bemused grins.

A clattering typewriter beat introduced the grunge of Chapter 2, softened by sound effects and half-whispered verses, before the force of Ritzy Brian’s chorus almost forced the body to leave its skin.

I Don’t Want to See You Like This encapsulates the essence that makes The Joy Formidable so irresistible – simple melodies that mask the difficulty of making a track that is both instantly memorable, yet good enough to endure. Tightly coiled riffs contrasted with Ritzy’s beautifully soulful repeated pleading of the track title over and over again, her expressions hid beneath the blonde bob.

Rhydian Dafydd’s Mansun-esque voice served Greyhounds in the Slips, during which a pregnant pause prepped the way for shouts to exclaim, “29, 29 equals gone!”, producing a moment you’d like to box up to take home. Perhaps more gloriously, an echoed guitar loop paved the way for drummer, Matt Thomas, to deliver a complex, eye-watering drum roll section that required visual proof to verify it wasn’t delivered by a machine.

Buoy’s haunting guitars paved the way for its metal and doom influenced chords, before crowd favourite, Cradle’s acerbic tones of an ending relationship.

The Joy Formidable showed the value of a pace breaker with 9669, nodding to their softer side. That said, even in their loudest moments the maintained that intimacy by showing how much they enjoy performing on-stage together. The revamped version of Whirring was played at each other, and with cheeky nods to Matt, Rhydian and Ritzy signalled the newly added drum section with metal-inspired double foot pedal rhythms that feel worthy of a stadium.

A Balloon Called Moaning EP’s The Last Drop was the first of the encore – its start-stop rhythms and repeated lyrics an instant crowd pleaser. Saving the best until last, most knew the breathily-delivered lyrics of The Greatest Light is The Greatest Shade. It’s initial slow rhythm created suspense before the track’s pleasurable snap into double pace, amongst a room filled with echoes of “Happy for you, happy for you” – a sentiment that The Joy Formidable built so much during the gig that these lyrics appeared to be sung back at them by the crowd as acknowledgement of the hard work they’ve put in to get to this point as a band.

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