Friday, November 5th, 2010
Greyhounds In The Slips
The Joy Formidable and The Dig at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank YangThe easy thing to do would be to go back to early May and just copy and paste my review of The Joy Formidable’s Toronto debut. After all, that show was just six months ago (almost to the day) at the same venue and even with the same supporting band in New York’s The Dig, and they haven’t released any new material in the interim, their full-length debut The Big Roar not due out until the new year. But considering that at the start of the year, I didn’t expect I’d get the chance to see The Joy Formidable live without hopping on a plane (which I almost did), already taking their visits for granted would simply be untoward.
I had mixed feelings about The Dig the first time around, finding half of their material sonically interesting and moderately adventuresome pop and the other half kind of rote, leaden garage rock. This outing made a more favourable impression, their set for whatever reason coming across catchier and punchier and with some standout material introduced as new numbers that were some of the best stuff they had to offer. They still felt the need to close with the more leaden, rawk material but even those were delivered with more verve than last time. The Dig might not be doing anything particularly fresh, but at least they’re getting better at it.
The Joy Formidable were already an impressively seasoned live act when the were here in the Spring, but still seemed to find room to improve over the past half year. For starters, drummer Matt Thomas was set up at the side of the stage rather than the back, opening up a lot more stage space for guitarist Ritzy Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd to roam, lurch and dance, which they did with gusto (and the mid-song kiss whilst tearing it up was particularly sweet – they’re a couple, it’s cool). Their delivery seemed to be a bit less manic, but heavier-sounding and more dramatic in delivery – Bryan was still all wide-eyed smiles on stage between guitar freak-outs, but there was a crazed edge to her stage presence that wasn’t evident before and reflected the extra snarl in their attack.
I was surprised that with a new album in the can, though apparently without a firm track list, there was hardly any new material in the mix. Lead single “I Don’t Want To See You Like This” and the pulverizing “Magnifying Glass”, which had been present in set lists all year, represented The Big Roar but the bulk of the set came from the A Balloon Called Moaning mini-album. Not that this is in any way a complaint; that debut remains as dizzyingly great as it did when I first heard it in February, I just thought that they’d be eager to road test more new material by this point.
Consequently, the set was shorter than I’d have liked – barely an hour including encore – but executed with more energy and intensity than a lot of bands could muster if they played all night. Plus they ended it with the sort of extended gear-abusing, feedback-inducing cathartic antics you might expect at the end of an extensive stint on the road and not the very start of a two-week North American jaunt. Assuming their equipment survives the experience, it’s going to be a hell of a trip. This is how you start a tour.
The Smith College Sophian has an interview with Ritzy Bryan.
Photos: The Joy Formidable, The Dig @ The Horseshoe – November 3, 2010
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
MP3: The Joy Formidable – “Greyhounds In The Slips”
MP3: The Dig – “You’re Already Gone”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “I Don’t Want To See You Like This”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Popinjay”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Austere”
Video: The Joy Formidable – “Cradle”
MySpace: The Joy Formidable
Manic Street Preachers have released a video for the second single from Postcards From A Young Man, and both song and clip feature Ian McCulloch from Echo & The Bunnymen, in case you couldn’t quite place the croak or the shades. The Sydney Morning Herald has a conversation with James Dean Bradfield.
I don’t know what a “lyric video” is, but Patrick Wolf has cobbled one together for the first single from his next album and it sounds great. The record was once called The Conqueror but is no longer and will be out in May.
Under The Radar reports that the 7″ single Laura Marling recorded for/at Jack White’s Third Man Records will be out on November 9 – it features two covers, Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Run the Game” and Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done”.
Oh, and if you’re the sort who likes free concert tickets and the like, I’d humbly suggest following me on Twitter at @fyang because while I’ll still be keeping Saturday the day of free stuff, short turnaround giveaways will now be happening via the Twitter. Starting today.