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» The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable – Philadelphia, Pa – 3.30.11

Posted on by jake Posted in The Beat | Leave a comment

Ritzy Bryan, lead singer and guitarist extraordinaire for the Joy Formidable has got serious spunk.  She let her fire hang out for all to see at their show at Johnny Brenda’s this past week in Philadelphia.  The Welsh front woman and her band mates were extremely comfortable in the club setting as they put on a clinic in everything to do right with rock and roll.

Bryan was a professional at letting go and quickly found the vibe to her liking as she dropped her guard let the music take control.   During “Cradle” she split her time jamming with her trio and making wide-eyed stares deep into the crowd.   She over-emphasized the words and stuck them to the back wall like darts being tossed into a board.  At the end of “Whirring” she turned her back to the crowd, took to her knees and pulled feedback from her amp by writhing against it with her guitar.  She rode it’s fuzzy wave as she turned back to
the crowd to bounce on her knees and hand slap her peddle board.  The effects grew into a trance of fuzz, feedback and drum beats that shook the onlookers.  Bryan sung delicate echoes during the beginning of Austere as Rhydian Dafydd filled in the holes with Bass.   His board of effect peddles was larger than Bryans and he used them repeatedly to help fill their sound past the point that you may expect a power trio to go. Drummer Matt Thomas matched Bryan’s bouncy spirit and tonal escapes with a trouncing of the skins.  There were even moments that the entire band played percussion.  The highlight of the evening was a performance of “The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade.”  It glued the evening together with a powerful and fiery bit of rock music that just made the crowd want more.

Bryan demonstrated a comfort and charisma that is a rarity.   Her stage energy bared similarities to Heartless Bastard’s Erika Wennerstrom, but her guitar play was quite different.  She played in a groove more in the raw vein of the Pixies meets the stadium pop rock echoes of the Kings of Leon.  Whatever was going on it was quite delicious to the ears and eyes.  A small side note – I snagged their debut album The Big Roar after the show.  I am not entirely convinced that this album does them justice.  It’s engineering clouds the raw energy that their live show clearly produces.  My suggestion – Your first listen should be this.

Watch Ritzy Bryan let it all hang out in the video below