The Joy Formidable, And So I Watch You From Afar @ The Forum

14th October 2011

We were back at one of our favourite stomping grounds tonight for a show that’s come as the result of an accelerated rise through the indie rock ranks in 2011, The Joy Formidable. They brought along a packed support line-up, the first of which we missed out on. Oddly all support bands had the same length sets. Now I’m all for equal opportunities but the hierarchy of set times is one right that needs to be built over time with rising popularity, not assigned through an arbitrary all inclusive policy.

The Dig

Nevertheless despite a shortlived uprising, we were stuck with The Dig for 30 arduous minutes of heavily reverbed, surf styled, trendy indie scene dross which barely managed to keep us awake, let alone entertain us. Credit is due though to their final song which perked up a wholly dull performance from these Abercrombie NYC residents, rescuing it from the jaws of defeat just in the nick of time, a la Jack Bauer. Ready to make a bigger impact in their 30 minutes were tonight’s ‘sub-headliners’ (a moot title), And So I Watch You From Afar…

And So I Watch You From Afar

ASIWYFA are an interesting beast. An instrumental guitar band who like to blur the boundaries between rock, post-rock and prog on their album releases. Tonight regardless of genre classifications they had their serious rocking hat on a they blasted through the standout first 4 tracks of their blistering new album Gangs. The instrumental virtuosity was sublime with some of the most complicated interweaved sections played on two guitars standing on opposite ends of the stage. Standout tune 7 Billion People All Alive At Once leveraged plenty of huge rugged breakdowns beautifully complimenting their more melancholic guitar lines and soaring soundscopic effects. Playing both the beauty and the beast bears no problem for this superbly talented band. Despite being on top form tonight, they seemed to have some slight technical issues, which may or may not have been the cause of their sound being way below the 11 they’d clearly love to tune their amp dials to. An epic journey of prog infused melodic phrasing and hard hitting raw power, one nobody wanted to alight from.

Suddenly out of the cold Kentish Town night, a small Cornish seafront village has appeared on stage, complete with its own crashing waves, boat and operational 10ft lighthouse. It was set for headliners The Joy Formidable (I’ve clearly missed the whole maritime link here). First impressions were…where is the lead singer? I then proceeded to rise on tip toes and located the vertically challenged female firecracker who’s beautiful vocals mixed up stunning power and a subtle fragility. This trio certainly packed a punch with some tremendously thunderful drumming and overwhelming crashing guitars (akin to a stormy sea perhaps? I know…I’m fishing for a connection).

The Joy Formidable
Only having a single LP to your name on one hand is a good thing. Everybody knows what’s instore! The finest tunes from their debut all got a great live reception including the electro stormer A Heavy Abacus, a potently tormented I Don’t Want To See You Like This and the remarkable sound collision of Whirring.

Ritzy Bryan

Although on the other hand, unless the album is a 10/10 instant classic, there is a lot of filler to plug the gaps where you would normally press fast forward. Having these interspersed within the set dried their indie rock formula up prematurely, hence later songs sounded almost too similar and repetitive. A few covers would have helped proceedings flow better.

Despite this, they put on a very entertaining show with great spirit, especially frontwoman Ritzy Bryan who endlessly bounded about with a smile of enjoyment streaking across her beaming face all evening. Ones to watch, for sure…roll on album #2.

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