The Joy Formidable @ The Lexington 21st August 2012

Built as a pre Reading/ Leeds show 21st August 2012 saw alternative Welsh rock band The Joy Formidable play an amazing and sweaty headline show at The Lexington. I have been a fan since 2009 (Ritzy even participated in an interview for this blog) and even though I wasn’t there from the start I can say that I caught them early in their career. It is very surreal to think that they are massive now and back in 2009 when I saw them play at The Borderline I could turn up at doors and still be the 1st there. How times change.

This headline slot at The Lexington is about as intimate as you will get for this band. I have seen them perform in various venues but I have to say that this 200 capacity pub had to claim the award for the most intimate performance. Doors for this event opened at 8pm. There was no support and The Joy Formidable were listed to take the stage at 9.15pm. So the time came and it gradually started to fill. During the time waiting all I could do is sit on the edge of the stage and wait. The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade opened up what was to be an incredible night. The Greatest Light was a powerful rock song with energetic lyrics you just want to go crazy to. It was in fact an epic song which everyone seemed to enjoy. I Don’t Want To See You Like This was then immediately after and this song oozed enegy. Also it was delivered to perfection and it was clear to see that everything was being put into it. Lyrically it was fantastic but my favourite part had to be the short middle 8 where the song was gentler. After plenty of applause it was then onto a brand new cut and this being Hedgehog. This brand new song offered lots of promise. It showed that the new songs will follow in the same format as which was featured on The Big Roar. This number was indie rock and Ritzy put in a startling performance. I can’t wait to hear the studio version. Cradle was perfect from beginning to end and the lyrics are amazing. It was an infectious song which was very light despite the fact it was literally indie rock. Cradle was a stunning song which was packed with plenty of power. Ostrich was next and this was a nice song. A crowd pleaser as well. I haven’t heard it since the gig at Relentless Garage in 2009. As soon as it started Ritzy’s vocals were crystal clear then as the song progressed it became more heavy.

A Heavy Abacus oozed plenty of energy and was powerful at the same time. The song was delivered to perfection and the lyrics were fantastic and infectious at the same time. After plenty of applause it was onto Austere which was a real crowd pleaser. People were singing along to this heavy song. The atmosphere was simply electric and this song whipped everyone into a frenzy. Porcupine was the next new song of the evening. It actually sounded rather incredible and this track was simply electric. Ritzy’s vocals were so sweet but with the combination of both drum and guitars it gave Porcupine that extra edge. “I suppose there’s some moments in life when you get kind of ignored, kind of purposely disregarded by somebody else and that’s actually a really f**king valid reason for celebration. This is kind of what this song’s about” Bryan said before introducing the next tune as being Silent Treatment. I had previously heard this song live earlier on in 2012 at Factory 7. Silent Treatment took the band into a new direction and this being down to the fact it was fully acoustic. Ritzy was singing this sweet soothing song while Rhydian was on an acoustic guitar. This number was gentle, had sublime lyrics and I found it to be slightly entrancing. Following straight on was another song from The Big Roar and this being Buoy. This tune was delivered powerfully. Behind them were two drums which had been turned on there side. Nearing the end both Ritzy and Rhydian began thumping the drum skins. Things were then rounded off with the stunning Whirring. The first few lines were a capella then the guitars and drums kicked in resulting in something which literally blew me away. The crowds atmosphere was simply electric everyone was jumping up and down plus there was even a crowd surfer. Whirring was a ferocious song and plenty of energy flowed from it. Its rhythm was really catchy plus its lyrics were flawless. Once over the band then left the stage only to return a couple of minutes later as everyone was chanting for more. “It’s been quite a while hasn’t it. We’ve missed ya. We really have. Where we’ve been, f**king hell kind of where haven’t we been. We were in Portland, Maine for a very long time which kind of made North Wales seem a bit less rugged and wild actually. We were in this little cabin, like 9ft of snow in the middle of nowhere. Just the 2 of us for about a month going stir f**king crazy. I was talking to squirrels and possums and I was like f**king Snow White by the end of the month. They were all my friends. But we’ve finished our 2nd record. As you may have gathered cos there’s been the odd little thing that we wanted to share with you tonight. We could think of no better people to share it with. So lets try another” Ritzy then said before another new song. When they returned to the stage only Ritzy and Rhydian graced it as Wolf’s Law was another acoustic song. Actually I found it rather hypnotic and soothing. It showed off Ritzy’s vocals perfectly. This beautiful song had tremendous lyrics and a gentle melody. This was rather tender and personally one of my many highlights of the set. “F**k it, we’re all friends here, the name of the album is Wolf’s Law too. There’s going to be lots more gigs. This is kind of special” Bryan said before they ended with The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie. This had a steady pace to begin with and then gained more power as it progressed.


The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade
I Don’t Want To See You Like This
A Heavy Abacus
Silent Treatment

Wolf’s Law
The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie

OVERALL: This was an incredible performance by The Joy Formidable that everyone love. This band truly have something and it is no surprise that they have had success in the USA. The Lexington show was really special, given the bands fan base just seeing them play in a small venue is quite something (the last time they were in London they played the much larger HMV Forum). That is the one thing I like about warm up shows and this down to the fact you can sometimes get big bands performing to smaller audiences (ie Kasabian at Brixton). What I liked was the fact they threw new songs into the mix which was pretty amazing. Now those 4 songs makes me anticipate the 2nd album Wolf’s Law.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Ericlered says:

    Hedgehog = This Ladder is Ours, Porcupine – Cholla, (real titles blacked out on the setlist!) and the acapella start to whirring was an Elvis Costello song called Just a Memory i believe. Also according to the NME Wolf’s Law will not feature on the album even though they share the same title!

  2. Will Jones says:

    Hedgehog is rumoured to be the first single, under the name This Ladder Is Ours, given the fact the chorus is those words repeated!

    1. Planet Music says:

      Thanks for the replies guys. As for Hedhog and Porcupine the set list had them listed down as those titles. But on I know that they have played both This Ladder Is Ours and Cholla recently. Maybe they are just working titles who knows.

      All the new songs on the evening were tremendous. If NME is right about Wolf’s Law that is a real shame because I love that song. If it is true would Silent Treament be on the album as that is fully acoustic as well?? Still I am guessing maybe a deluxe version with another disc of acoustic tracks. Or it could be an iTunes exclusive who knows.

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