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Travis – The Invisible Band Live LP (Craft)

25 October 2023
As advertised, this limited 2xLP Record Store Day release captures a full performance of Travis’ 2001 album The Invisible Band. The show was recorded in the Scottish indie-pop quartet’s hometown of Glasgow in 2022 during a pandemic-delayed 20th anniversary tour for the album. “It’s 20 years old,” says frontman Fran Healy of the band’s third album. “That cannot be possible. I’m only 32!”

The band is audibly in high spirits while offering their often-melancholy but soothing fare to a full house of devoted fans at the Royal Concert Hall. Healy and his bandmates deliver international hit singles including the buoyant and anthemic “Sing” and the stirring “Side,” and fan favorites like the sun-kissed “Flowers in the Window.” The band plays the songs in album order. “There’s some small print on the ticket that says you should have been studying the album for the last month, three times a day.” says Healy. “I hope you’ve all done that.” Bassist Dougie Payne admits on mic that he may not have followed those instructions.

The live arrangements remain faithful to their familiar studio counterparts overall, but the band stretches the running time by pausing after numbers including the wistful “Pipe Dreams” and “Indefinitely” (stripped of its orchestral trappings) for stories about the heady times surrounding the making of the album. One tale concerns the death of Alanis Morrissette’s flower bed due to Healy and his new friend Moby. Before playing the sparkling “Follow the Light,” Healy and Payne reminisce about the band’s early days in Glasgow as Glass Onion.

Andy Dunlop sets his guitar aside occasionally, playing banjo on “Sing” and keyboard on “Flowers in the Window.” The set list sticks to the original album tracks without including B-sides like Dunlop’s “You Don’t Know What I’m Like” or Payne’s “Ring Out the Bell.” Those songs would have made nice additions to expand the story of The Invisible Band during this backward glance.

The hometown audience is definitely game, joining Healy often to sing or to clap in time with drummer Neil Primrose on songs like the chiming “Afterglow.” The album’s measured material, barring perhaps the youthful worries expressed in “Dear Diary,” has aged well alongside the band members. Although the songs from The Invisible Band still seem beset by rainclouds, they’re delivered with a sense of hope and communal strength.