Music review: Travis, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Travis, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****
“The small print on the ticket says you should have been studying the album for the last month,” said Fran Healy, for the benefit of anyone in the hall who wasn’t aware this concert was an anniversary celebration for the group’s third album The Invisible Band, and they were going to be hearing it in its entirety.
“Twenty years!” he marvelled at how long it’s been since the album’s release, standing out in his pink suit and baby blue baseball cap. “I'm only 32, how did that happen?” He’s a bit older than that, and so is the album; Covid postponements mean it’s actually 21.
Yet it sounds oddly fresh. On its release, Travis had already made a huge name for themselves with a handful of upbeat but bittersweet indie-pop hits. The Invisible Band, on the other hand, was an exercise in almost too-studied melancholy, the sound of a successful young group who seemingly decided to go self-consciously gloomy.
Maybe they were just old before their time, because the world-weariness aching through the bones of their big anthemic hits Sing, Side and Flowers in the Window sounds perfectly suited to a bunch of musicians in their forties who have been at this for decades – at it together, undivided after all this time, which is some achievement.
Healy himself sounds somewhat over the tender teen angst of Dear Diary and he seemed glad to get it out of the way, but it’s the only song which seems dated in its sentiments. Other, lesser-known album songs including Pipe Dreams, Last Train and Indefinitely are timelessly wistful, laced with fitting anecdotes about playing their first gig as Glass Onion at the nearby Apollo (the small one), to Hollywood parties with Alanis Morrissette and Jim Carrey.
The set was topped up with an extended encore featuring key material like Driftwood, Turn, the underrated A Ghost, and an inevitable communal dance to Why Does It Always Rain On Me? Healy apologised for invoking real rain outside with that final song, but 20 years on, the sense of hope amid the gloom now feels genuinely well-earned.