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The Joy Formidable With The Lonely Forest - Webster Hall (New York, NY) - Friday, April 29, 2011

30 April 2011

There’s a good chance you’ll be hearing more about The Joy Formidable and not just because Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters called “Whirring” the “song of the year.”

A powerful trio from North Wales, TJF just ended its U.S. tour on a triumphant note, wowing an ecstatic and large audience at Manhattan’s Webster Hall. With buzz building, from writers here at The BigTakeover, NME and elsewhere, expectations were high.

TJF did not disappoint.

Led by the kinetic and attractive Ritzy Bryan, who plays guitar and sings with cool calm and ferocity, TJF rocks in the truest sense of the word, drenching ones ears with a cascading fuzz of aggression, mood, melody and drama.

Comparisons to My Bloody Valentine are apt but TJF is far too diverse to easily pigeonhole. With its propulsive edge, sweet dulcet tones and highly accomplished songwriting, TJF offers up a delectable shoegaze/punk/postpunk stew.

Tunes often alternated between quiet and loud, accentuating the power of both extremes. And a visibly happy Bryan alternately looked demure and slightly crazed, sometimes opening her eyes wide with a feral stare that could scare away any would be predator! That memorable stare often appeared after she would deliberately approach one of her many effects pedals and almost coyly step on one before launching a massive firestorm of sound and fury. Bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas were no less compelling, playing with unbridled intensity.

From its incredible new album “The Big Roar,” TJF played a number of spectacular songs that gained intensity live. “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie,” “Austere,” “Cradle,” “Whirring,” “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade,” and the finale “A Heavy Abacus” all were mesmerizing (see full setlist here). We also heard the brilliant “Greyhounds in the Slips” (but why the heck isn’t that on the new album?).

It was thrilling to hear these gems played live by a group that is at a peak in its young career but which, with many years likely ahead of it, clearly has not peaked.

My only complaint? At about an hour, the set was too short!