Nice guys, nice tunes. That’s Travis’ legacy. Forefathers to the early Noughties rise of sensitive dullards such as Coldplay, these days they’re a long way from their late 1990s commercial heyday. Yet they seem comfortable in middle-age. This homecoming gig found them in nostalgic mood, as they celebrated 20 years as an invisible band.
Lead singer/songwriter Fran Healy and his naff little ponytail (even Status Quo’s Francis Rossi, who graced the Hydro stage the night before, has cut his off), led the faithful through a typically friendly hit-heavy set. He revealed that Writing to Reach You was penned in a freezing Glasgow flat in 1995 while accidentally high on Calor gas. A male choir dressed in Santa outfits joined them for Paralysed. During Where You Stand, he sat astride an audience member’s shoulders to watch his friends of 26 years perform on stage. It was jolly yet dull.
At their worst, Travis are the musical equivalent of a characterless high street fashion retail outlet. Mewling dirges such as Closer sound like they’re falling asleep on themselves. But strong tunes such as Turn and Sing are testament to Travis’ once all-conquering populist touch. Described by Healy as “Travis’ national anthem”, the first song they ever did, All I Want to Do is Rock, is still their best, even if it is just a blatant rewrite of John Lennon’s Mother.
Mark my words, they’ll still be doing this in 20 years time.