It’s been a good 15 years since Travis were the commercial kings of the castle, but a home audience never forgets, and even this most non-swaggering of bands were in for a heroes’ welcome on the first night of their first tour in some time.
Travis have a brood of new songs for our consideration. Fran Healy, a frontman with doe-eyed charm to spare, bid us be gentle with his “bambis” as they took their first steps into the big bad world. Actually, the likes of Animals (written by bassist Dougie Payne) and Paralysed were relatively muscular, while the nagging earworm melody of Idlewild could certainly fend for itself.
But it was Driftwood which offered the first opportunity for a lusty singalong – this, despite its gentle wistfulness. Sing remains their finest tune – Glen Campbell doesn’t cover any old guff, y’know – though the audience loved bellowing back the forced Turn almost as much as the closing Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
The only new song which threatened to join these singalong ranks was the jaunty Magnificent Time for which Healy had developed a choreographed crowd hand jive. He made a foray into the crowd during one of the blander new numbers, his location at first only plottable by the direction of the phones filming him, before he was hoisted and bounced by the fans. “This is like the Grand National,” he quipped. They’ll be back next month for a lap of honour, with the SSO at Barrowland.