Travis – Webster Hall – April 25, 2009

April 27th, 2009


Webster Hall might as well have been a time machine Saturday night. Early in the set, “Writing to Reach You” sailed out over a sold-out crowd and it felt just like 1999. In less than four minutes, 10 years melted like a Prospect Park ice cream cone on the first hot day of spring. It felt real. It felt like the last of the Clinton years. But things have changed. The economy sucks, Travis never became as big as Coldplay and 2009 can have a sobering character.

Travis didn’t play like a band that missed the yellow brick road. There wasn’t anything approaching regret on the first hot evening of April. They were gracious, at one point noting, “We’re all here because we’ve got one thing in common: We like to go out and hear live music.” There is a sense that this was not about them at all. As if emphasizing the populism of their music, they ask their fans to take a minute to meet the strangers standing next to them. “Shake their hands,” said lead singer Fran Healy. The audience buzzed as people turned to one another and made acquaintance. In other settings, it would have seemed like a piece of awkward theater. In this room—with this band—it felt right. Travis launched into “Driftwood” and everyone sang along.

In the most electric moment of the evening, Healy launched himself off the drum kit. It punctuated the last two choruses of “Side,” arguably the band’s best song, and many in the crowd pumped their fists. Healy and the rest of Travis don’t look like they missed getting five-star famous by a nose. They are famous to the people at their shows. And that is a concept that transcends time. —Geoff Nelson