Travis @ 9:30 Club / Review

I admit, I was pretty surprised about the devoted following of Travis fans in DC, or at least, surrounding me at the sold-out 9:30 Club show last night (thx Brian for the ticket!). Considering the fact that their first album came out back in the late 90s, it’s interesting to see that they’ve still got a strong fanbase – complete with flag-waving Scots.

Travis didn’t take the stage the way I’d expect a mellow-sounding Brit-pop band to do it. Instead, the theme from Rocky blared over the speakers as the band, each member clad in a boxing robe, made their way from the back of the 9:30 Club through the crowd up to the stage, high-fiving fans all the way. I’ve never seen that before, and I’m pretty sure I got a high-five from lead singer Fran Healy!

Anyway, I was very impressed by Healy’s soaring, effervescent voice from the opening lines of their leadoff number, “Selfish Jean.” I had never seen Travis live before, and Fran (or “Franny,” as my flag-waving neighbors called him) could really get his voice up there to nail those high notes throughout the evening. He’s a character with a good stage presence, which is helped out by a thick Scottish brogue that Sean Connery himself would be envious of.

Overall, I’d say Travis put on a pretty solid show, with a strong arsenal of catchy little melodies and earnest lyrics, though some songs seemed to sound vaguely similar after awhile. Of course, I’m not overly familiar w/ the Travis canon, only owning The Invisible Band. I wouldn’t say that Travis really rocked, but they managed to keep a decent energy level going, thanks to the pounding bass drum stomp rhythm that kept people bouncing during most songs.

I did enjoy the subtle lead guitar work of Andy Dunlop, and was happy to see that he survived his much-labored climb up to the balcony of the 9:30 Club for a second-story solo. Other highlights included the band gathering around Fran (above) to group-sing “Flowers in the Window,” and Andy busting out the banjo for the fan-favorite “Sing.”

Watch: “Closer” Video

Photo Credit: J. Americ Pasco (Heroboy)