Travis – Live at Glastonbury ’99 (Craft Recordings)
The band’s “shining moment”?
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Travis’ breakout year (1999), Craft Recordings has also issued Live at Glastonbury ’99, documenting the band’s career-turning performance at this popular English festival.
The Man Who had been issued the previous month with very little fanfare. The album was basically dead in the water. Then, the band took the Glastonbury stage in June, and just as they marched into their single, “Why Does It Always Rain On Me,” it started raining. This Queen-at-Live-Aid-type moment captured the spirit of the crowd and reversed the band’s fortunes. Within the month, “Rain on Me” was in the Top 10, the album would hit #1 and Travis were on their way.
While all of that is well and good, this concert is, um, less than spectacular. The first issue is that Fran Healey’s whispered delivery doesn’t transfer very well in this big setting. His voice is flat A LOT. And it cracks OFTEN.
Yeah, I know it’s live. It’s hot, it’s the festival crowd. But, R.E.M. turned in a truly career-defining moment under these same circumstances (for proof, check out their Live at the BBC performance from the same show).
“Writing to Reach You” does have a little more kick than the album version, but a lot this midtempo stuff, just kind of lays there. The drums are mixed way down, so everything just sort of lumbers along. Their older, more rocking material, like “U16 Girls” and “Good Feeling” are much better suited to the live format. What about “Why Does It Always Rain On Me”? Without the rain, it’s just a so-so rendition.
Travis is a great studio band. As mentioned in the previous review, The Man Who still stands up. So does Ode to J. Smith. This? I would only recommend to the truly devoted Travis fan. —Tony Peters