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Formed in 2007, The Joy Formidable have made steady progress to become one of the brightest live attractions on the gig circuit. And it’s pleasing, in these days of instant and empty celebratory, to see a band evolve by making music with real weight and conviction as well as putting in the hard work to acquire a reputation as a great live band. Tonight they land at a sold-out Ritz in Manchester, which is the biggest venue they’ve played so far in Manchester.

With a very fine new album – ‘Wolf’s Law’ – to show off The Joy Formidable stand on the precipice of moving into the big league, and, quite rightly so. Bands like the Joy Formidable embody the spirit of rock n roll and should be lauded and cherished in equal amounts. Like most of The Joy Formidable’s music made over the years, it’s at its most impressive when it's on the move. Opener ‘Cholla’ and immediate follower ‘Austere’ are both bright and sprightly and introduce the band beautifully. However what’s interesting is that these two tracks come from opposite ends of the band’s career in that ‘Cholla’ is a single release from the latest album ‘Wolf’s Law’, and ‘Austere’ was a seven incher from when the band was starting out. Both songs fit together seamlessly and share the same intensity and drive.

Constant touring has gelled together the three musicians who make up the Joy Formidable remarkably well, and it’s easy to hear that the sound the band is making has been delicately crafted by the road. Bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas display a shared dynamism that keeps things moving through the set with some urgency, though it’s the striking and melodically inventive guitar lines of Ritzy Bryan that really puts the sparkle into the tunes. However when you see Ritzy singing her heart out, and continually dance around the stage, you start to get an idea of what a wonderful performer she is.

Tonight the set’s composed equally of tracks from the two albums the band have released to date – the aforementioned ‘Wolf’s Law’ and their debut ‘The Big Roar’. But it’s the way Ritzy and the boys articulate their recorded output into live renditions that send a chill down the spine. If a band needs anything to succeed then the magical ingredient is conviction, and that’s something the Joy Formidable have in abundance. You can almost feel that there’s not a song played tonight with which the band don’t give 100%. Yet this isn’t a band that’s grown aloof from their fans and can still engage in some between song banter with the audience. Even when a small skirmish breaks out in the crowd, Ritzy quells it by saying that this gig is a place where everyone can be friends, friends brought together by music. And statements like that couldn’t be truer because gigs like this, by a band at the top of their game, do nothing less than restore one’s faith in music.


This Ladder Is Ours
The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade
Little Blimp
While the Flies
Silent Treatment
Maw Maw Song
I Don't Want to See You Like This
The Everchanging Spectrum of  Lie


Forest Serenade
Wolf's Law

Review by Phil King
Photos by Melanie Smith -

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