Gig Review: The Joy Formidable, Norwich Waterfront 23/01/13

26 Jan

The Joy Formidable

It is a bitingly cold evening in Norwich and just as the theme tune for Red Dwarf tells us, ‘it’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere’. Inside The Waterfront however, it’s a very different story. Sweaty bodies jostle and bristle with excitement as they await the arrival of tonight’s headline act. It’s been a couple of years since The Joy Formidable visited its second home of Norwich and there is a real buzz of anticipation in the room. As the opening guitars of “Cholla” snarl and roar, it’s clear that not only have the prodigals returned, they came to rock.

Ritzy is the proverbial wolf on stage, her demeanour one part raw intensity, one part charm. Throughout the set she prowls and struts; she is the big dog and this is her yard. As she looks out across the crowd the message is clear, ‘I came here to blow the roof off this place, what the fuck are you going to do about it?’ and then she smiles. She smiles like she’s having the best time and the crowd smiles, and whoops and jumps with her. They also crowd-surf in what must be record time with “Cholla” barely even over.

From then on we are treated to a mélange of tracks, new and old, thundering around the venue. It is an explosive, rawkus affair with riffs, bass and drums seemingly in competition to send the greatest vibrations through the crowd’s collective bodies. It’s like standing behind a jet engine just as it fires up, there’s no way you can stay on your feet.

Respite comes almost exclusively in the form of banter of the highest and sweetest order. Throughout the night there are jokes, reminisces of starting out, gratitude for the support of Norwich as they began their journey and discussions of tour etiquette and the underwear the guys wear (or don’t, as the case may be). All of which are delivered with a modest and engaging humour, except when Ritzy talks about not being able to sell the new album on the merch stand; then it is f-bomb city and the crowd loves it.

The pace of the evening is slowed for an acoustic rendition of “Silent Treatment”, the delicacy of which is a stark but beautiful contrast to the throbbing aggression that preceded it. Immediately the foot is slammed back to the floor as it is followed by “Maw Maw Song”, a track blessed with a riff so good, the band have to sing it as well. The brakes are not applied again either, the bass lines continue to drive headlong into the thrash of guitar and the drums are pounded so hard, sticks appear to be splintering. “I Don’t Want To See You Like This” and “The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie” take us to the defacto end of set but as the crowd howls for more and the obligatory encore of “Wolfs Law” and “Whirring” is delivered with relish. As “Whirring” draws the evening to a close, Ritzy abandons the stage and her illuminated wolf head screen backdrop (which from certain angles looks like a Totoro, so gets even more cool points) and jumps to the floor. One last rock out moment to be provided face to face with the adoring masses who are so enraptured this evening.

It is a triumphant return to Norwich for the band and while some things, like the aforementioned Red Dwarf for example, clearly don’t age well, The Joy Formidable just keep getting better and better.


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One Response to “Gig Review: The Joy Formidable, Norwich Waterfront 23/01/13”

  1. name not supplied March 10, 2013 at 23:51 #

    I saw these play recently and they were bloody marvellous!!!!!!!!!!

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