LIVE REVIEW: Travis at Camden Roundhouse, London

TRAVIS

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Travis' third album, The Invisible Band, this LP was remastered by Emily Lazar and reissued at the end of 2021 in two limited-edition formats. Described by lead guitarist/banjo player Andy Dunlop as their "most cohesive and natural album", the title itself reflects the band's songs being more important than the individual band members. With Nigel Godrich, who had produced The Man Who, on board, and with generous radio airplay for leading single "Sing", The Invisible Band would go four-times platinum.

This tour almost didn't happen because frontman Fran Healy's hand needed specialist surgery after being attacked by a dog he rescued earlier this year. Thankfully Healy, his hand, and the band were all present, willing and able to perform The Invisible Band in full along with other classics.

As a sensitive songwriter who often delves into his dark moments and experiences, Healy merrily arrived on to the stage in a bright matching pink suit and pink t-shirt. The suit was complemented by a bright spotted blue baseball cap. Bassist Dougie Payne also looked dapper with a Men in Black style suit and matching tie. With this being an album playback tour, warming up the packed Roundhouse was never going to be an issue since "Sing", originally titled "Swing", was the first song on The Invisible Band. Whilst crowd jumping and hand waving was slightly rusty, the Roundhouse knew the lyrics by heart and were instantly elated, as were the band, with the song that was most played on British radio in the summer of 2001.

The sanguine, emotive and reflective "Dear Diary" followed. The stoic heartfelt silence demonstrated how deftly Travis went from creating an anthem that brought group unity to private honest reflection. In an age where people are under increased pressure to reveal more of themselves in the public domain, "Dear Diary", written and released in a time before social media, proved to be even more poignant. Through a heavier, rockier sound, "Side" also roused emotions as Healy sang "That the grass is always greener on the other side. The neighbour's got a new car that you wanna drive. And when time is running out you wanna stay alive…".

Following the hopeful and pleasantly dreamy "Pipe Dreams, audience vocal participation and elation for The Invisible Band tracks reached its zenith on "Flowers in the Window". Whilst the most widely known and commercial songs belong to the first half of The Invisible Band, this must not be interpreted as the latter half being lacklustre, which received less enthusiasm from the crowd. The Invisible Band's penultimate song, "Indefinitely", a song Healy said was about when things are going well and you don't want anything to change, was performed with genuine honesty. The final track, "The Humpty Dumpty Love Song", was especially poignant for Healy. He got so emotional, the band had to restart this hit. "The Humpty Dumpty Love Song" was written immediately after Travis had made the Humpty Dumpty themed video to "Coming Around". The video director, and close friend known as Ringin, who this song was dedicated to, lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.

An encore followed the Invisible Band set. Healy had ditched the pink suit and blue baseball cap in favour of dungarees with a yellow baseball cap. Payne had gone T-Bird style with a black leather jacket and white t-shirt. The first song played was "Ghost" from their latest, ninth LP "10 Songs". The poignant and appropriate for current times, "Love Will Come Through", was the chosen song from The Invisible Band follow up 12 Memories. Two tracks from The Boy with No Name, "Closer" and "My Eyes", which was written when Healy learned that he was going to be a father, maintained momentum.

The remainder of the set consisted of The Man Who material. "Turn", one of Travis' rockier numbers, saw audience members join in passionately singing at high decibels levels. The song which equally triggered happy and melancholy feelings was "Driftwood", and the final track was none other than "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?", which earned obligatory, yet willing, hand waving and jumping up and down where both Travis and fans relived the band's classic 1999 Glastonbury performance.

Apart from not including Good Feeling material, Travis proved that The Invisible Band had stood the test of time and, in some respects was more relevant now than it was in 2001. Travis also demonstrated that the strength of their back catalogue is not solely confined to songs from The Invisible Band and The Man Who. The four-piece also introduced Fatherson as their main support act who demonstrated Scottish music has a promising future.

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