Live Review: Fran Healy & Andy Dunlop of Travis @ The Loft, October 17

[ 0 ] October 20, 2009 |

By Scott Roberts; photo by Sue Volkert

How often do you go to a highly
anticipated event only to be let down by your own inflated or unrealistic
expectations? After interviewing Travis frontman Fran Healy last month about
his upcoming stripped-down tour with fellow Travis guitarist Andy Dunlop
(please see my October 9 “Q&A” on this very website), I was afraid this
might be the case at their stop at The Loft on Saturday, October 17. Happily, my
fears were unfounded as Healy and Dunlop performed a thoroughly enjoyable,
albeit relatively quiet, journey through the history of Travis with pictures,
stories, and, most importantly, songs that more than lived up to any self-created

Despite the usually more rock-oriented
atmosphere that is The Loft, the living-room-like quality of the show was
established before a single note was played as Healy came out pre-show to make
some adjustments on the computer slideshow (which he ran himself during the performance),
asking the sold-out crowd not to look just yet so they could be surprised when
the time came for each projection. To The Loft’s credit, the generally
standing-only venue wisely decided to put seats out for this show, definitely a
more suitable situation for the children-to-grandparent-aged crowd.

The slideshow featured lots of shots of the band both on and off the
stage, as well as maps and landscapes of various appropriate countries. For
example, a flag of Israel
was shown before “Last Laugh of the Laughter” since Healy explained that he was
on holiday there when he began writing the song. Principal songwriter Healy is
a natural storyteller whose colorful tales are peppered with innocently
delivered foul language. “Cursing is sort of like punctuation in Scotland,” he
reasoned, “so I recommend the wee ones I see out there to close their ears
during, well, during the whole show.”

And the stories themselves ranged from the
expected (“Why Does It Always Rain On Me” inspired by Healy’s experience in the
“pissing rain” while on holiday in Spain) to the confessional (the chord changes
in “Writing To Reach You,” with its “What’s a wonderwall anyway?” line, were
indeed lifted from Oasis, but was also influenced by Franz Kafka and The

The songs were presented chronologically with Healy opening the show
alone on acoustic guitar with “Twenty,” the first song he ever wrote (a hidden
bonus track on some editions of The Man
), and closing with two songs from their last CD, 2008’s Ode To J. Smith (“Song To Self” and
“Before You Were Young”) and one new song, “As It Comes.” Healy’s melodically
personal songs were brilliantly punctuated throughout the set by bandmate
Dunlop’s understated electric guitar playing (especially effective on “Driftwood”
and “Side”), occasional Casio keyboard accompaniment, and surprising harmony
singing. Over all, seeing Healy and Dunlop in this format was not the same
exhilarating experience as seeing Travis as a full band, but it was certainly as
equally satisfying.

Category: Live Reviews

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