Meltdown Festival: The Joy Formidable at the Purcell Room
After seeing The Joy Formidable take on Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival at Southbank Centre Friday night, it’s clear that Wales’ electrifying alternative rock trio have come a long way from Flintshire.
The band, made up of Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan (lead vocals/guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (vocals, bass) and Matthew James Thomas (drums), found fame in the end credits of the film Twilight: Breaking Dawn with their song Endtapes, and have been unstoppable since. With three studio albums and a new single under their belt, The Joy Formidable clearly have some very dedicated fans – smiles plastered the audience’s faces and shouts of “I love you!” could be heard between each track.
In a sold-out show at the festival’s Purcell Room, the rockers opened their set to a cloud of fog, multi-coloured laser lights and The Leopard and the Lung off of their second studio record Wolf’s Law. They then took it back to their debut album, The Big Roar, with hits I Don’t Want to See You Like This and the more mellow The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade.
They broke up their performance with a bit of hilarious onstage banter, which gave viewers a relaxed, garage band vibe, but they quickly returned to rock star mode once the first note of their next song was played. There were a few sound issues with the venue’s PA system, but it was nothing the three-piece couldn’t overcome as they moved onward with the rest of their set list.
The group went back and forth between their first two records with This Ladder Is Ours and Cradle before busting out Ostrich, a hit from their limited release debut EP, A Balloon Called Moaning. Passerby, a bonus track from their 2016 album Hitch, gave The Joy Formidable a chance to show off their insanely good guitar and drum skills and ability to thrill fans despite the seated venue.
They moved on to A Heavy Abacus before giving A Greyhound in the Slips a shot, but it was a bit more difficult without Paul Draper’s (Mansun) featured vocals. Despite the difference in sound, the rockers managed to pull it off and move on to The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie from The Big Roar – their final song before the encore. This was perhaps the most enjoyable track of the evening’s set, particularly because of Thomas’s thrilling drum solo ending and trailing notes.
The trio took a break from their electric riffs and brought the show down to an acoustic level with The Brook, an absolutely lovely Welsh-inspired, vocal-heavy track from Hitch. They performed the song from within the audience as they dedicated it to Annie Catwoman, the promoter who booked them their first gig, who was attending the concert. This was the moment the band made their fans feel like friends joining them in the studio as they outwardly admitted errors and wrong notes, prompting laughter from viewers.
Following this by busting out a fresh, experimental sound with Dance of the Lotus, a newly released single off of their upcoming album, they concluded the show with title track Wolf’s Law and the upbeat Whirring.
Setting off the weekend to an exhilarating start, The Joy Formidable gave fans a taste of the old and the new with a set chock-full of guitar duets, head-banging drum solos, and plenty of smiles.
Photo: Vic Frankowski
For further information and future events visit The Joy Formidable’s website here.
Watch the video for Dance of the Lotus here: