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Reviews

The Joy Formidable - Cardiff Solus

With the Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals on long-term breaks it seems there is a temporary opening for the position of best band in Wales. Young upstarts, The Joy Formidable, could well be the band to lift the crown. Having caused ripples in the UK and America with their debut album, a lot is expected of this trio who have just got back on the road again to tour their recently released second album, Wolf’s Law. It was therefore safe to say there was an air of expectation among a packed out crowd at Cardiff Solus for what was something of a homecoming gig.

After a lively set by the very promising We Are Animal, it was time for the main attraction. While there may have been a lot of love for Joy Formidable in the room, there did not seem to be the expected energy levels that usually accompany a band with such a blistering live reputation. So applause was warm rather than rapturous and those choosing to partake in a little po-going were confined to a small pocket near the front of the stage rather than being spread throughout the confines of this intimate venue.

The somewhat muted reception was not for any lack of trying by the band it has to be said; powerhouse drummer Matt Thomas was a blur of thrashing arms and head banging and bassist Rhydian Dafydd completed the super tight rhythm section with a performance full of gusto. And then you have the charismatic Ritzy Bryan, resplendent in a gold sequinned mini-dress. When she is not delivering her note perfect vocals and executing monster riffs with ease, she stalks the stage wide-eyed, staring at the crowd like a woman possessed. Yet, for all these collective virtues of the band, something was missing.

Maybe it was down to the newer material from fresh-out-the-box Wolf’s Law being less familiar to fans than the well established tracks from the debut album, The Big Roar. It is understandable that new songs such as This Ladder Is Ours, Cholla, the delicate and beautiful Silent Treatment and the epic-sounding Maw Maw Song are not greeted with the same fervour during the gig that Cradle, Austere and the inevitable set closer, Whirring, garner from the crowd.?

Perhaps only time will tell whether they gain equal footing or even surpass their predecessors in the hearts of the fans. It has to be said I left the venue feeling satisfied but not exhilarated. Joy Formidable? On this performance you would have to say it was merely Joy Pretty Good.

Gareth Llewellyn