The Joy Formidable Rally The Music Hall of Williamsburg With Explosive Set (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

The powerful and energetic rock band from Wales, The Joy Formidable, released their fourth album, AAARTH, this past September. The album title comes from arth, the Welsh word for bear with a couple more a’s for emphasis. Nearing the end of an extensive tour, the trio’s second to last stop landed them at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY Novembe,r 9th on a soggy and chilly autumn evening.

Opening the show was Tancred, the New England band led by singer/guitarist/songwriter Jess Abbott, the former guitarist of Minnesota indie rock band Now, Now. Abbott and her band immediately captivated audience members with lush vocals and catchy lyrics. “Queen of New York”, “Hot Star’, and “Something Else” from Tancred’s latest release Nightstand were all highlights of a very enjoyable set of solid songs.

The Joy Formidable wasted no time firing up the crowd when they launched their set with the explosive “This Ladder is Ours”. The crowd came alive with the pulsating rhythm of bassist/keyboardist Rhydian Dafydd Davies and drummer Matthew James Thomas which catapulted the vocals and guitar of Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan to another level. The song was the first single released for the band’s 2013 Wolf’s Law LP.

The Joy Formidable kept the momentum going with “Cradle” and “The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade”, two songs from their debut release, A Balloon Called Moaning an EP released before their first full album, The Big Roar. Next, the audience got their first live taste of the new album. “Y Bluen Eira” was recorded and is performed in the band’s native language of Welsh. The title translates as “Blue Snow” and the aggressive beat and foreign language made for unusual listening.

The band returned to English with “Passerby”, an explosive song that was a bonus track from their third album Hitch. The sonic assault did not let up as the power trio crushed the Music Hall of Williamsburg with the thunderous “Ostrich”. The Joy Formidable switched gears to the hypnotic “Cicada (Land on Your Back)”, which is also featured on the new album that was juxtaposed with the heavier grind of “A Heavy Abacus” and the soaring “Buoy” from their first album.

“The Wrong Side”, another song from the new album, had plenty of room for Ritzy Bryan to let loose on guitar with scorching solos. The group closed the show with “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie” which combined subtle moments of beautiful vocals with the intensity of screaming guitar and pounding beats leading to a huge climatic build-up at the end.

The majority of the audience was still in a frenzy when The Joy Formidable returned to the stage for an encore. The band returned to the Wolf’s Law album for “The Leopard and the Lung” that launched into an outstanding encore. The band played another new song, “The Better Me” before ending the show with a blistering version of “Whirring”. Bryan was literally shredding on guitar that had strings popping as she alternated manipulating foot pedal effect with her hands and pounding her guitar on the stage and assaulting the strings before finally flinging the instrument across the stage as she left.

The Joy Formidable put on an incredible show full of energy and intensity peppered with quieter moments of beautiful lyricism. They a sense of humor when fans began yelling for drummer Matthew James Thomas to smash his giant gong that is prominently displayed behind his kit, Ritzy Bryan joked that people always yelled for that before one of their quieter songs. Thomas began alternately shushing the crowd and teasing the crowd with fake swings at the gong before giving it a crowd-pleasing smash.

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