The Joy Formidable Is Amazing Live

Matthew Bellamy.
Matthew Bellamy.
Ritzy Bryan.
Ritzy Bryan.

Following Muse is no problem for this band.

This review is about The Joy Formidable. But first I have to talk about Muse for a minute.

We saw Muse this past Monday at Madison Square Garden. It was my sixth time seeing them – second time seeing them at the Garden. I’m not a huge fan of Muse’s new album, but it hardly mattered. Muse is easily one of the greatest live bands out there, and they have so many earth-shattering songs, explosive sunbursts that set the building on fire. Even from far away at a venue like the Garden, you can feel their power. And Matthew Bellamy is arguably the most exciting frontman in the business. He has my vote.

So that was Monday. On Thursday we went to see The Joy Formidable at Webster Hall, a midsize, general-admission venue, a fraction the size of the Garden. Neither my girlfriend not I had seen The Joy Formidable – a three-piece from the United Kingdom – and we were excited. We had just gotten into their albums and were expecting the show to be good. What we experienced completely blew our faces off. I’m still digesting how goddamn good this band is.

The heart of the band is singer/guitarist Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan. We could not take our eyes off this woman. When she’s not at the mike singing, she bounces/skates/glides around the stage with a blaze behind her. She makes eye contact with the crowd with these crazy, electric eyes, and it makes your hair stand on end to see how supercharged and free she is. I’m confident that Matthew Bellamy would have a lot of respect for this chick. As we were leaving the venue, my girlfriend said about Ritzy, “I need to read everything about her on the Internet.”

When I first saw Muse play, I was amazed by how much noise they make with three people. (They play with a fourth guy now.) I didn’t understand how they were generating that much power and creating six different layers with three people. And that’s exactly how I felt watching The Joy Formidable. When they rocked out the end of a song, it sounded like a spaceship was taking off. Like an alien spaceship smoking and screaming, revving up and melting down, turning light into liquid and cutting the air into diamond dust. All the while Ritzy looks into your soul and shoots spikes out her eyes. She wants you to ignite.

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