Without a doubt, 1999 was a big year for Travis, releasing their multi-platinum and biggest selling album to date, ‘The Man Who’. But 2001 was also a huge year for the band, it included the release of the highly coveted ‘Invisible Band’ album, which topped the U.K album charts for several weeks. The band have also done a lot of work in America, where unlike similar acts in previous times, Travis were well-received, whilst playing famous venues such as the ‘New York Radio City Hall’. Their ability to change the everyday into concise, lyrical rock has allowed them to relate in a way no other band with the possible exception of the Stereophonics, has matched.
The band armed with material both old and new, begin with a chain of hits from previous albums, ‘Good Feeling’ and ‘The Man Who’, but it’s impossible for a fan to get tired of hearing hits like ‘Writing to Reach You’, these are songs which are upbeat and the fans respond by singing along to every word.
The material from ‘The Man Who’ is given added substance and new life, while vocalist Fran still sings every word and line as important and fresh as the day he wrote it, guitarist Andy Dunlop is on his knees, his shining guitar raised high above his head increasing the immense quality from his amp, meanwhile, bassist Dougie Payne thrusts his pelvis into the back of his guitar, his face full of concentration, and Neil continues to hammer his drum kit into early retirement. ‘The Fear’ and
‘Driftwood’ from ‘The Man Who’ are restyled as rushes of rock ’n’ roll boldness, while even older songs such as ‘All I wanna do is Rock’ and the tireless sound of ‘Good Feeling’ don’t sound out of place in a ‘The Man Who’ orientated set. The audience respond fittingly, those who don’t know all of the words opting for hands in the air, jumping up and down dancing instead.
It is now what seems like an age, but is in fact a period of 5 years since Travis were opening up for the god’s of Oasis. Travis shows have now grown immeasurably in stature, proved by a U.K arena tour selling out at a vast pace. Flourishing sales have given the quiet Scots and irrepressible confidence and boldness that was occasionally absent in the past. And with a string of award ceremonies on the horizon, including the ‘Brit. Awards’, Travis are surely heading for some much deserved success.
Fran then announced, quietly yet confidently, in his broad Glaswegian accent a slight change in the set and in turn introduced the material from his latest creation, ‘The Invisible Band’. The songs played settled easily, beside those from previous albums. In these tracks there is no giant stylistic leaps forward, this was easy enough to tell, just from listening to the album itself, but some of the tracks sound like classics, especially live. ‘Pipe Dreams’ for example, has a lazy strum, almost making it sound spontaneous, sometimes lacking in Travis material, also a country tinge compliment Fran’s resigned voice. Dougie then told a brief tale of how Travis started out under Oasis and then dedicated ‘Flowers in the window’ to Oasis. ‘Dear Diary’ was next, another low key ballad showing the results of a diary Fran tells the intrigued crowd he has kept since reading the novel, ‘Adrian Mole’ at the age of 12, while Fran’s own murder ballad, ‘Last Train’, is haunting. Then came the most enjoyable moment of the night, before ‘Follow the light’ Fran introduced a visual featuring a computer game, Gran Turismo, he gave a member of the crowd the chance to play the game alongside the song. The result was as one can imagine stunning. The audience seemed to stare in amazement at the effect of the fast beat of the track alongside the visuals of the game. After the song the audience nearly took the roof off with cheers and applause.
After a brief disappearance, Fran returned for an encore, and gave a solo performance of ‘Twenty’, a song he wrote during his childhood, this was a real treat for the fans, who responded again with prolonged, rapturous cheers at the end of his acoustic performance.
The real indicator that Travis have come of age is Fran’s new confidence in his songwriting ability. His willingness to share his deepest feelings and thoughts together with a vulnerability that makes him even more engaging. It is Fran’s ability to see all things simply for what they are, as in the basic choruses of songs such as, ‘Turn’, ‘Sing’ and the new track ‘Safe’ which can be the most bizarre thing about Travis, though live, and backed by several thousand screaming voices, this simplicity makes sense.
Fran then politely asks the audience to help him with the next track. He claims the song has ‘Totally ruined his voice’ and it gets worse each time he sings it, he then duly introduces the track, ‘Turn’.
Travis finish with three favourites, ’Turn’, ‘Sing’ and the unmistakable ‘Why does it always rain on me?’, all three tracks sang, word for word, by the most-part of the fans who seemed simply amazed and intrigued by how great the sound of Travis live really was.
After just 45 minutes, a length of time, which will leave many moments of extreme value with those who attended, and as with the proverb, the time seemed to fly by, Travis brought the curtain down on a concert which undoubtedly gives a higher standard of expectancy on future releases by the Scottish quartet.
Christopher Clark AS English Coursework