I went to see The Joy Formidable at the Plug in Sheffield last night. They've been away for three years, which has resulted in them going from selling out the 500-capacity Leadmill three years ago to the small room at the Plug and about 150 people. It shows if you don't keep in the headlines other bands come along and take your fans away (such as Wolf Alice, I guess).
Nevertheless, a more intimate venue meant lots of interaction with the crowd, which I always like a lot more than when bands don't say word between songs. TJF's new album "Hitch" is more of what you'd expect from them, and you get value for money at an hour long.
I went along to the Manchester and Leeds shows, I think the crowds were smaller than expected - they were billed for Academy 2 in Mancester but I found them (after a moment of mild panic...) in the Club Academy... They switched around the order and also played several different songs in the two respective sets I saw, which I was really quite impressed by. Both shows were suitably brilliant and really they are as energetic as ever, allbeit a little more 'sane' and 'grown up'. The crowd interaction and banter between the band is an ongoing theme and something I particularly love them for.
Actually I caught them in Birmingham when they did the little pre-tour of relatively small venues in February this year - that was a really special show - they did an acoustic and un-amplified set in the middle of the crowd near the end, it really was one of the most beautiful moments.
I'm very impressed with their latest album, there's an intricacy and roundedness to the songs which I think far surpasses some of their earlier efforts... I'd really like to see them get back onto that surreal wave of mass media attention; and all the madness it brings someday; in the meantime it's fabulous to see them doing as brilliant a job as ever for the real fans and anyone lucky enough to happen across the magic of their music.