Welsh alternative band, The Joy Formidable graced the JBTV stage for the third time this past weekend, not only to a packed venue, but also to an extremely eager crowd, anxious to witness the band’s Chicago return. The band themselves were very excited to play at JBTV, and gushed about how much they enjoy being in Chicago, since based on their experience, the Chicago music fans truly enjoy the music and have a love for it, unlike the fans in any other city they’ve played in previously.
Unlike The Joy Formidable’s past two JBTV performances, lead singer Ritzy Bryan and bassist and vocalist Rhydian Dafydd decided to employ acoustic guitars and foot drums for this stripped down performance -- something quite different for the band, but definitely a treat to all present at the show. Having to leave drummer Matt Thomas in Minneapolis due to a logistics issues and almost not making it to the studio themselves, Ritzy and Rhydian utilized what instruments they brought with them. Ritzy even saying herself that it was nice to switch it up, but sad to not have Matt with them for the performance.
Since the band just released their sixth studio album, Aarth, fans were unsure whether to expect a set full of new material or one filled with old favorites. But to everyone’s surprise, The Joy Formidable perfectly chose a mix of old and new songs to create an awesome set. Not to mention each song having a different vibe, due to them being played acoustically.
The set kicked off with the raring and foreboding song, “Little Blimp,” a fan-favorite from the band’s album, Wolf’s Law. When played normally with a full band, it’s a loud and boisterous one however, even played acoustically, The Joy Formidable brought the heat and had the entire crowd off their feet and excited for the rest of songs they had in store.
Next the band played older tracks, “Whirring” and “The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade”, both from their sophomore effort, The Big Roar. Between Ritzy’s soft vocals and Rhydian’s exceptional guitar skills, both songs sounded effervescent and beautiful in their reimagined acoustic form.
When The Joy Formidable transitioned into their next song, “Y Bluen Eira”, the crowd danced along, but soon realized that it was not in fact in English but instead entirely in Gaelic, Rhydian’s first language and Ritzy’s second. Despite fans not understanding what it meant, The Joy Formidable continued to play the song from their newest album. Afterwards, they explained that the track was in their native language and informed the crowd on some facts about Wales and Gaelic.
The Joy Formidable then went on to play another new song “Dance of the Lotus”, which received a very positive reaction amongst the crowd, as well as the staff here at JBTV. Lead singer Ritzy also discussed the different approach they took when choosing a music video idea of the song, when chatting with Jerry. The band decided to collaborate with Boston-based animation company, TRLLM to bring this track to life in the visual form.
For the rest of the band’s set, they continued to mix it up between old favorites and new releases, surprising fans with each song played. The entire crowd was floored by The Joy Formidable’s superb performance and were left wanting more, long after the band left the stage.
Photo Credit: Ava Butera