Travis at The CommodorePhotos by Ronatron
The nicest guys from Scotland, Travis, were in town April 4th – and no, it wasn’t raining.
It was just a whirlwind of fun.
Travis has been together for over ten years, but after seeing them live, it really doesn’t seem that way, except perhaps for the tightness of the band. They exuded excitement and rocked a sold-out Commodore, and it was easy to see that the band still enjoys touring together, creating live music, and even hypnotizing the crowd into many magic sing-alongs.
April 4 was a Travis-filled day for me. I got a chance to chat with the rhythm section earlier in the day, with bassist Dougie Payne and drummer Neil Primrose. I was left optimistic with the fact that although these are two very established rock stars from Scotland, they can keep a level head, and remain plain-out nice people. Their influences range from David Bowie and Roxy Music, to classic folk and Motown stuff; mostly inspired by family members. Their newest installment, “Ode to J. Smith”, took five weeks to write, and two weeks to record. Both members agreed that the quickness of the record – flaws, glitches and all, make for an interesting and soulful compilation.
Travis is said to be responsible for the coming of bands like Coldplay, and Snow Patrol. When I asked Neil Primrose about this, he laughingly asked, “Do we take the blame for that?” I can see the comparison though; I think they sound a lot like Keane, but better.
After talking to them, I had high expectations for the show, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was so much fun to watch them play, as every member of the band brought their own irreplaceable perk and charismatic charm. Neil Primrose kept a strong, steady, beat; he slammed a giant gong, and was back at the drum set within seconds, to follow up with some awe-inducing drum fills. Singer Fran Healey linked the whole band, and has a spectacular voice that caused shivers. Dougie Payne mostly kept to his flamboyant (in a good way) gestures, but every once in a while would make eye contact with someone in the crowd, and flash a giant, friendly, almost flirtatious smile. Lead guitarist Andy Dunlop kept to himself, but at times brought crazy to the bands’ persona; at one point, he climbed up to the very top of his stacked orange amps and shredded a mean guitar solo.
Every song they played was beautifully different, and represented their diverse collection of music, spanning over ten years. They silenced the crowd, and made them sing along in chorus to “Closer”, and all jump in harmony during the big finale, “Why Does It Always Rain On Me”.
But what I found to be most fascinating and captivating, was that despite being together and in close quarters for about 20 years, they are still obviously having the time of their life, and seemed to love each other like a band should. Everyone had equal importance. The stage banter was incredible; it probably helped that a thick Scottish accent came through, but boy were they witty. Healey had just finished singing a song (in its entirety) in the midst of the crowd, and when we returned to the stage, talked about how he thought Vancouver was a polite place, and was shocked at how much his crotch-area had been groped in those approximately four minutes; and how he couldn’t wait to get back down there. They kept the banter short and sweet, which made it special.
If you haven’t heard Travis, I think you should. Not only did they put on a great live show, and really showed the heart in their music; the music itself is really enjoyable melodic rock. They are a band that can still rock out and radiate fun, and they seem to understand the grittiness and organics of making music real.