Scottish rock band Travis’ Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop are enjoying a New York residency at the intimate Joe’s Pub for a six-night stand of a shows. Billed as “A Chronological Acoustical Journey Through The Travis Back Catalogue: Laugh Out Loud Stories, Scottish Accents, Handsome Scottish Men, Naked Torsos,” the show lived up to its ambitious title last night.
“This show is like a school project and you’re the class,” announced Fran at the beginning of the set, which kicked off with the first song he ever wrote, and he wasn’t kidding. With a screen behind him, Fran projected slides and told stories in between songs, moving chronologically through his impressive songwriting career, each song underscored by Andy’s guitar parts.
Fran took the audience on a stroll through Scotland with images of his homeland and funny stories from growing up in Glasgow and finding inspiration for Travis’ most beloved tunes. Before introducing the crushing ballad “Luv,” Fran told a story about when he played the song for Liam Gallagher, while on tour with Oasis, and left him in tears. “He said, ‘you made me cry, you’re weird,’” said Fran in a spot-on imitation of the irascible Mancunian frontman that got an uproarious reaction from the Anglophile audience.
Soon after, a slide of a grizzly Noel Gallagher sucking on a cigarette came up and Fran admitted to “nicking the chords” from Oasis for the break-up song “Writing To Reach You,” explaining that was why he threw in the line “And what’s a wonderwall anyway?”
The set was heavy on songs from The Man Who, the band’s breakthrough album that sold a whopping 10 million copies worldwide, also including “As You Are,” “Driftwood,” and, of course, “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” Fran said Travis’ mega-hit was the fruitful result of a rainy holiday in Israel.
For “Slide Show” there was an appropriate array of slides that showed the band throughout the years, from humble beginnings to shots in the studio with Paul McCartney. The uplifting tale of falling in love told in “Flowers In the Window” was followed by the grim tale of domestic violence in “Blue Light Flashing,” but what was consistent was Fran’s passion in every lyric he delivered in his warm, familiar vocals.
The set was over two hours long, yet Fran never seemed to lose steam, still spinning a clever Scottish yarn right up to the very last song. Never mind that he’s used to playing much larger venues, backed by a full band, Fran strived to make every moment special for the intimate crowd and it was felt, reminding us how these guys helped pave the way for Coldplay—and just how damn good they are.