Joy Formidable at Islington Assembly Hall
In London on a cold Wednesday night, the Welsh rock trio Joy Formidable took to the stage. As they warmed up, the Islington Assembly Hall began to slowly fill and then Ritzy Bryan (lead vocals and guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass and backing vocals) and Matt Thomas (drums) stepped forward. Having previously released The Big Roar and Wolf Law, 2016 has seen the band deliver their third album Hitch, which fans were eager to experience live. Having played as the undercard for big name acts such as Paul McCartney, The Black Keys and Foo Fighters, they now stepped as the headline ticket.
The concert began with A Second in White, a song off their new record, which has some great lyrics. The overhead lights basked the musicians in blue and gold as they rocked it, the guitar riff was strong and the melody very rhythmic.
During the third track, Passerby, the backing of the stage was black and the lights shone white. The occasional flash of red revealed mist, where some of the lyrics seemed to get lost before reaching the audience’s ears. However, Bryan and Dafydd went on to face off to each other during the impressive guitar solo. The passion infected the concertgoers, who seemed to perk up at this point.
In warm up to Liana, the lead vocalist began to elucidate her thoughts on the “crazy year” of 2016. She and her bandmates agreed “it’s been a fucked up year with Brexit and Trump”, and the deaths of so many musical greats. It was at this point voices began to heckle them; whether it was discontent with Bryan’s summary of post-truth politics, or just impatience to hear a favourite track, it was hard to decipher.
They judged the crowd’s mood, with the frontwoman delivering a verbal knock down to her “rowdy gang” audience members. Then the piano led them in, accompanied by orange-pink stage lights and some crisp vocals, which were clearer at the beginning of Liana then they were for most of the concert. The song features some nice harmonisations, proving that the trio can work well together, even if Britain and the USA cannot.
The venue’s acoustics were a bit tinny, a fault exacerbated by the high decibel sound system. However, the enthusiasm of the band could not be critiqued and they delivered a headbanging set, proper music and a good all-round experience.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information about Joy Formidable and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Whirring here: