The Regent, Ipswich.
Anyone who tries to stir up an Ipswich audience with a stirring call to arms like “How ya doin’, Ipswich?” or “Are there any Travis fans in tonight?” has either massively over-estimated their perceived innate connection with their audience, or hasn’t been to Ipswich before. Thus Turin Brakes, with their affable brand of guitar-based power melancholy attempt to warm up The Ipswich Regent, nee Odeon, nee Gaumont, a task that The Beatles once attempted on behalf of Roy Orbison, something Fran Healey out of The Travis will mention later on. “It’s a good room” he will say “A good vibe”, which demonstrates a certain generosity of personality, if nothing else.
Travis are here to wheel out a performance of their classic, nineteen year-old album The Man Who – a record which, according to Q Magazine’s contemporaneous review “…loses momentum after its first four songs” – an issue which often intrudes on these anniversary recreations of halcyon periods in a band’s recorded output. That slightly weak track you buried half way through side two isn’t necessarily what you want to be building your live show toward a climax with.
Fran is initially non-communicative, leading to fears that this is going to be one of those precious renditions but a few songs in, once the majority of the crowd has hauled itself to its feet, he opens up and turns out to be a thoroughly affable host, spilling stories of having to be faxed the lyrics to (spoiler alert) encore ‘(Hit Me Baby) One More Time’, playing “Jools Holland” for the first time (this during an introduction to supplementary keyboard player Dave, who has a spotlight upon him for the duration of his performance of what was, presumably, Jools’s bit), and a splendid impersonation of Liam Gallagher summoning him into a dressing room and demanding he (Healey) play a song. “Him, sitting there in his Mani hat”. This is not an occasion for those who view the turn of the century with anything other than fond nostalgia.
The extended post-album encore/second half is a flurry of hits and anthems. The house lights are up for singalong choruses and even the backdrop is transformed from an album cover landscape to the sort of all-flashing, all-spinning light show that Coldplay might try and shoehorn into a theatre this size. During the encore encore Guitarist Andy Dunlop performs an entire hammered-on guitar solo whilst draining a beer, picks at a banjitar and e-bows to the letter. “That’s the way a Les Paul should be played!” remarks a chum approvingly. “On the hip”.
Many civilians. One of them had to be explained to what a bass was.
It made me think..
“We’ve been friends for twenty seven years” says Fran. It shows.