Welsh three-piece The Joy Formidable have been slowly building their reputation over the last year. Trading in indie-rock and shoegaze with cavernous productions and memorable melodies, their A Balloon Called Moaning EP from February ’09 is the band’s debut release and calling card – setting out their sound and embedding the vocals of singer Ritzy well into your skull. This Academy 2 basement gig was the first opportunity for them to show a Dublin crowd what they could do live (save for a fleeting Oxegen slot last year).
If there is one memorable thing that State will take away from this gig, it’s that The Joy Formidable are LOUD. Like ringing-in-your-ear-for-days loud. They are a tight unit: drummer Matt Thomas provides the crashing rock drums, Rhydian Dafydd gives us the low frequencies while Ritzy Bryan amplifies it with her massive collection of over a dozen pedals, a guitar at ear-shredding volume, all delivered with an intense glass-eyed stare at the audience.
The band deliver a rock show in the classic sense of the word: thrashing guitars, bended back on knee silhouettes, drum rolls and cymbal crashes – their music has a decidedly early ’90s shoegaze feel. It suits them as performers. The short setlist is mostly taken from A Balloon Called Moaning EP despite a new album on the way in the next few months.
They have a number of great rock songs in their catalogue: the comforting ‘Whirring’, the bleep-ambience / rock atmospherics of ‘The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade’, the “ooh-ooh” assisted ‘Cradle’ and their most recent single and best song to date ‘PopinJay’. A few songs pass us by, despite the fans in front of the stage who know every word but if The Joy Formidable can keep up the ratio of great songs they already have in their limited live catalogue, then we expect to see them at a festival stage once again where everyone knows the words and is thrashing along with them.
Photos by Damien McGlynn.