Ritzy Bryan appears on stage in Whelan’s looking like little red riding hood as an angelic blonde. She’s so small she’s dwarfed by Matt Thomas’ drum kit, and, meekly requests in a Minnie Mouse-esque voice that the close-up crowd do not spill anything on her pedal board. The cartoon-esque persona is quickly dashed by the bands rapid fire intro into ‘A Heavy Abacus’ which sets the crowd off into a swaying mass up the front. Ritzy immediately takes on an almost processed persona, pulling the most obscure faces as she alternates between ceiling gazing and bug-eyed staring at the crowd, almost defying them to hold her stare. She bends furiously back and forth strumming her guitar in reckless gusto to each track, competing furiously with drums and guitar for prevalence. The output is a wall of sound which reverberates around Whelan’s, and yet, Ritzy’s vocals soar over it, as she delivers each lyric with assured confidence. This is The Joy Formidable’s forte, creating in your face loud ballsy tracks which the likes of Muse and the Foo Fighters would be proud of.
The overall set falls into the above pattern throughout as the band plunge through songs from their first LP The Big Roar. Three tracks stand out most from the night: ‘Austere’ for creating a swirling mass of bouncing bodies chanting back ‘Oh’ to an addictive base line, ‘Cradle’ as nothing compares to watching a audience member brandishing a ladel mid-air while bouncing along to the track.
Lastly, as the lights dimmed Matt Thomas provided an extended drum roll intro to the majestic track ‘Whirring.’ Mass chanting and moshing ensued as Ritzy’s frenzied face pulled a few notches and the rest of the band indulged in some over-extended strumming. Even the harp player appeared to descend into a manic state of finger plucking. An ear-shattering Sunday night’s entertainment then.
Photos: Alessio Michelini – see full gallery.