In terms of launching pads, London’s KOKO venue is probably an auspicious one for aspiring bands. It’s been home to legendary gigs from bands like Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers and even Madonna. The building has stood for over 100 years and it’s even survived a world war.
And so The Joy Formidable arrived at the grand old venue knowing this is a big step in their fledgling careers. The majority of the crowd, it must be said, are probably getting their first taste of TJF tonight, with a young demographic and the focus being on style over substance.
This doesn’t deter TJF who set out to convert the masses with ‘The Ever Changing Spectrum of a Lie’. Ritzy Bryan is a curious front woman – with glitz and glamour in spades and yet she shuns the chance to pump her ego up to the ceiling. All of the band are purposely placed in a row with drummer Matt Thomas drumming side on to the crowd front of stage. This creates a sense of unity and brings a slightly altered dynamic to the performance with each band member staring into the whites of each others eyes.
It really takes off with the double header of 'The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade' and 'Austere', igniting the front and making the back move their feet. But it’s the moody swagger of ‘Ostrich’ which serves as a highlight. Drum beats like machine gun bullets puncture holes in the rumbling bass and guitar. Perhaps it is an acquired taste but ‘Ostrich’ bears a resemblance to the Manic’s ‘Holy Bible’ days, with pent up anger and a streak of sadism.
Mansun’s Paul Draper joins the band for ‘Greyhounds In The Slips’ (perhaps a sign of things to come for TJF?) and the crowd rocks and swells with excitement. Tracks like ‘Whirring’ and ‘The Last Drop’ are naturally well received having featured on the band’s original mini-album ‘A Balloon called Moaning’. ‘Whirring’ in particular has a chorus more worthy of Wembley than KOKO.
It’s left to fan favourite ‘Cradle’ to round off matters, the only disappointment being the lack of ‘While the Flies’, but you get the idea that might be more down to the curfew than the band’s preference. As it goes this is a display laden with confidence and potential. Piecing it together and finally getting to Wembley is the hard part, but this isn’t a bad start.
The Joy Formidable - live
'Adds a reality and a personal connection to his sound that can only really be achieved on the live stage'
'This is the proudest moment of my f*cking life!'