Live review: The Joy Formidable @ the Bluebird TheaterBy Mike Long | March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
A boisterous, sold-out crowd crammed the Bluebird Theater to hear the even more boisterous and happy Welsh power trio the Joy Formidable on Saturday night. On the verge of releasing the follow-up to last year’s lauded debut, “The Big Roar,” the band bolted out of the gate at full stride and maintained its full-on, break-neck pace throughout the set.
The focus in some circles is on guitarist/vocalist Ritzy Bryan, though bassist/vocalist, Rhydian Dafydd (playing so forcefully, you half-feared his instrument wouldn’t survive the performance) and the ferocious drumming of Matt Thomas both contribute equally to the band’s unrelenting onslaught of sound. The early crowd favorite “I Don’t Want To See You Like This,” launched the band and the audience into a reciprocal frenzy that lasted the entire show, stopping the sound and the song just long enough for Bryan to physically emphasize the song’s lyric: “This is the past right here. I choose to leave it here.”
There’s no denying Bryan’s charisma. Armed with an impressive pedal board, she alternately smiled and contorted her face, bending her body, as well as the sound, from her guitar. Bryan’s forte is rapid fire strumming, a-la Johnny Ramone, making her guitar roar, rather than shriek or scream.
Regrettably, her vocals were mostly buried in the (again) muddy sound at the Bluebird. That was hardly a problem, however, when Bryan asked the crowd to join her in singing along with “Austere,” which most did happily.
The band closed its roughly 75 minute set (including encore) by bringing out a friend to play harp as a prelude for the tour-de-force closer, “Whirring,” elongated by a crushing six-or-seven-minute long instrumental smackdown.
The show started a little after 9 p.m., odd for a St Patrick’s Day/Saturday night event. As a result, a lot of people waiting in line, or arriving late, entirely missed A Place To Bury Strangers’ brief, five song set to begin the night.
Mike Long is a Longmont-based writer and comedian and a regular contributor to Reverb.