The Vic, Chicago
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Sporting a bit more of gray around the temples than when Fran Healy and Scottish quartet Travis arrived on the scene as an answer to the swaggering, spiteful lads in Oasis, the band’s impish frontman still flutters around the stage with the fervor of a garage band hero instead of a multi-platinum-selling artist.
Healy’s irrepressible good nature was put to the test Saturday night at The Vic when a faulty microphone administered a “mosquito-bite”-like electric shock each time his mouth touched the equipment. Despite a roadie’s delayed effort to rectify the situation, Healy spent much of the 90-minute set plowing through the discomfort. Fed up, Healy finally stood at the lip of the stage sans amplification during the encore for a breathtaking solo rendition of the nostalgic “20.”
The mood lightened when Healy brought a fan out from backstage to surprise an unsuspecting lady in the audience with a nervous, but exuberant marriage proposal. The newly engaged couple sat, clasping hands, by Neil Primrose’s drum kit, while the band serenaded all the hopeful romantics in the room with “The Humpty Dumpty Love Song.”
Without a new release to promote, Travis culled a majority of material from the band’s 2000 breakout album, The Man Who, with a yearning “Driftwood,” a blistering “Blue Flashing Light,” a lovelorn “Writing To Reach You,” and the anthemic “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?”
Guitarist Andy Dunlop scaled a death-defying stack of amps during a rigorous old-school tune, “All I Want To Do Is Rock,” while bassist Dougie Payne anchored a propelling “Side,” in addition to playing a perfect harmonic foil to Healy’s crooning on “Selfish Jean,” from 2007’s The Boy With No Name.
– Janine Schaults
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