Anyone over 30 will recall the ubiquity of Travis’s The Man Who album at the turn of the millennium, a serendipitous performance at Glastonbury securing it a special place in the canon of Brit Pop’s fag end.
This show saw the Glaswegian four-piece perform it in full at the Brighton Dome as part of a tour marking the 19th anniversary of the album’s release.
Fran Healy, decked out in a kilt and sporting a slicked-back man bun, was an undeniably charming front man, punctuating songs with background stories that amplified the sense that this was performance as historical artefact – although the pleasant but relatively mundane anecdotes largely only succeeded in stripping the record of mystique.
A sweet memory of Healy nervously performing the song Luv to Liam Gallagher backstage was an amusing exception.
Healy’s voice was noticeably stretched at times, not helped by many of the songs’ high-pitched lead vocal parts – this was particularly evident during Turn, the chorus of which was almost uncomfortable to listen to. The song also served as an unwanted reminder of the band’s defiantly banal approach to lyricism.
That said, the hits were potent and well-received, with Driftwood in particular ageing well, and some of the album’s lead guitar parts sounding surprisingly fresh.
Why Does It Always Rain On Me brought much of the Dome to its feet, while Sing, Side and Closer sparked a wave of awkward dancing and hand-clapping during the encore, underlining Healy’s underrated gift for writing anthemic, sing-a-long choruses.
Travis are at a stage in the life cycle of an established band where there is little incentive to surprise. Shows like this exist primarily as a time capsule designed to spark nostalgia, and they delivered exactly what their fans expected, in typically warm and unpretentious fashion.
Travis are nice, and sometimes there is nothing wrong with ‘nice’.
Originally published in The Argus.