The Joy Formidable at First Avenue – 4/5/2016


Rock school was in session Tuesday night at First Avenue and The Joy Formidable was the teacher. The Welsh rock band’s tour promoting their new album “Hitch” stopped at the legendary venue.

Everything Everything started the night. The 4 piece from England’s set was heavy on their current release “Get to Heaven” Starting with “To the Blade” they quickly engaged the fans and had them cheering hard. Personal standout for me was “Regret” with very distinct backing vocals. Singer Jonathan Higgs wore some kind of frock – granted it was still a bit chilly. Overall an impressive showing for the band on their first outing to the Twin Cities
Set List: To The Blade / Blast Doors / Kemosabe / Regret / Warm Healer / Cough Cough / “Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread” / No Reptiles / Distant Past

If The Joy Formidable was an MMA fighter, people would talk about how hard they hit for their weight class. After all, it’s a singer/guitarist, a bass/keyboard player, and a drummer, right? Well, they scored a knockout in the first round, uh, song, and kept punching. Their sound is for lack of a better word big. Singer Ritzy Bryan is a bundle of sheer power and she does not slow down. She needs to move, comes to the mike for her lines and then she seems to be jerked away to another part of the stage. It’s incredibly fun to watch. Having the drummer set up on stage left makes for some great visuals, I have seen a few bands do that lately and really enjoy it as a photographer. Drummers are cool to photograph and hiding them in the back of the stage makes them hard to catch.
Bryan’s Welsh accent made her comments between songs quite interesting. Her pronunciation of F****king was almost charming. Even though their record is less than 2 weeks old, they introduced a new song “Passerby” not on it. The crowd was one of the most engaged ones I have seen at First Ave in a while. There were dozens of arms raised at all times. The last song of the night “Whirring” saw the band jump in the pit to close out the show with their fans. All in all, The Joy Formidable delivered one hell of a rock show. If you get a chance, go see them!
Set List: The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade / This Ladder Is Ours / I Don’t Want to See You Like This / Passerby / Wolf’s Law / The Last Thing on My Mind / Ostrich / Cradle / The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie Encore: Radio of Lips / Maw Maw Song / Liana / Whirring