THE Travelling Band have had quite some journey.
Made in Manchester, drawn to New York City and heralded at Glastonbury as the Rainy City’s next great hope – the folk-rock fivesome have been around the block.
The old adage “it’s not the destination, but the journey” could not ring truer for the well-travelled group whose beautifully-crafted sound is more firmly rooted in Americana than Mancunia.
But even with their apparent wanderlust, it came as a surprise when TTB rolled up for an intimate gig at Chipping Village Hall to kick off a sprawling UK tour which takes in some of the country’s pantheonic alternative music venues.
Plucking songs from their new and unreleased album “The Big Defreeze”, the band showed exactly why they have garnered such a faithful following of fans which includes BBC 6Music’s Marc Riley and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.
Opening track “Hands Up” was simply mesmeric and set the tone for a stunning show. The song soared with twinkling guitars and uplifting harmonies which hinted that the third album could be their finest yet.
Crashing drums, electric guitars and the catchy refrain of “Making Eyes” was a paean to the band’s progression toward the heavier end of the folk-rock continuum.
“Sticks and Stones” with its bright and cheerful chords rolled into the accoustic guitar-inflected “Fairweather Friend” from their 2011 album “Screaming is Something.”
A shift in tempo and the timeless “Took My Soul” swept in sounding more West Coast California than mad-for-it Manchester. A genuinely great track.
The intricate guitars and infectious harmonies of “Battlescars” gave way to the excellent, effortless and cool “Borrowed and Blue”.
But just when you think you’ve got the measure of The Travelling Band, they surprise you.
This is a group that defies categorisation and seemingly keeps plumbing new depths and dimensions to enrich an already enigmatic sound.
“Garbo” was foot-stamping, upbeat and anthemic while “Quicksand” would surely be a festival favourite.
“Pinholes” rings with an epic sound and “For All the Fallen”, like many other Travelling Band songs, feels complex and crafted and builds into something big and beautiful.
There are so many elements and so much to like about the band and they all come together in the stirring and ethereal “Sundial” which played live is simply incredible.
The gig was a totem of their on-going evolution, blending psychedelic pop, intricate and introspective folk and rock.
This is a group that has broken through the shackles of Manchester’s imposing musical past, to create something unique and spectacular.
Long live the band that treads the path less travelled.