“The Men Who” just keep going – Travis Gig Review

Nineteen years after the release of their second album “The Man Who”,  Glasgow rock band Travis returned to London Town to play it all over again, in it’s entirety. Back in the day, this album was their big breakthrough, spending eleven weeks at the top of the UK  album charts and going platinum many times over. It is iconic. Everyone of a certain age has heard of it, probably even has a copy, knows the big songs and can sing along.

In this day and age, many bands are coming back to stage to play their iconic albums of old. Those were the days when an album was the big thing, eagerly awaited and anticipated and poured over in huge detail upon release. The cover analysed, the inserts avidly read, the words learned off by heart. The particularly discerning, or slightly anal perhaps, would even debate in earnest the actual order in which the songs appeared. Some might prefer side A to B. Kids these days would not understand.

Some may like this concept, others not, but it is quite special in many ways. Never before have bands played an album from start to finish and now they do. For hugely successful and ground breaking albums, why not ? And “The Man Who” was most certainly one of those.

Travis did not disappoint. Quite the opposite. With the album cover a backdrop to the stage, they brought the nice and comfortably seated crowd at the somewhat staid and formal Royal Festival  Hall to their feet. That was quite some feat.  Yet they have a catalogue and a style that demands it.

They are a proper rock band. They can play. They know their stuff. They are very comfortable in what they do. They have big songs. Lead singer Fran Healy has a certain character, charm and charisma. He is humorous yet humble and endearing and his performance and stories added hugely to the gig. Those who were there will certainly not forget him in a hurry.

They played the big stuff. “Why does it always rain on me”, “Driftwood”, “Turn” and “Sing” but it was arguably a much lesser known song that left the biggest mark. Healy regaled the days when Travis were a support act for Oasis when they were in their pomp yet in something of a self-deprecating way, his Gallagher impressions particularly good for a Scot. He recounted a story from one afternoon when Liam, for whom he had nothing but good words, called him into the tour caravan, showed him a guitar and asked him to play him a song. Young Fran, somewhat in awe, had no option, picked up a guitar, kept his head down and played. Upon finishing, he looked up to see Liam removing those shades that he never ever removes and wiping his eyes.

The song that made Liam cry is called “Luv”. It is song number 8 on “The Man Who”. It is a beautiful moving ballad. Fran then sang it to perfection, somewhat Beatles-esque, somewhat Oasis-esque even. You could have heard a pin drop. There was not a dry eye in the house.

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