The Glasgow-based rock quartet Travis released the bestselling British pop album of 1999. They’re virtual unknown here in the States, but that obscurity won’t last long: Travis proved to an overflowing Troubadour crowd that it is the next U.K. band destined for American success.
The music of Travis, like that of many of its Brit-pop contemporaries (Oasis, etc.), is rooted in the classic pop styles of the Beatles and the Kinks. But the stirring, often profound, songwriting of singer-guitarist Fran Healy and the band’s overall dramatic edge recall more accomplished recent bands like Radiohead, Manic Street Preachers and James.
Healy’s strong voice, which spanned from whisper to near-scream, added heft to the material.
At an overpacked Troubadour, the quartet descended the staircase at stage right, while a recording of the organ riff in Led Zeppelin’s “Your Time Is Gonna Come” sent the message that the band expected to impress the industry-heavy throng.
The band offered a capable and engaging 70-minute program full of swinging moods, sweeping and memorable choruses, and enough instrumental dexterity to keep it interesting from beginning (the smoldering opener “All I Want to Do Is Rock,” from the band’s 1997 debut album) to end (an unexpectedly poignant rendition of the Britney Spears hit “Baby One More Time,” performed during the encore by Healy and bassist Dougie Payne).
Travis played all but one of the songs from its Epic album “The Man Who” (which bows in the U.S. April 11 after an international release last May), and many of them — like the magnificent, soaring “Turn,” the dreamy “Driftwood” and the climactic “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?” — sounded like hits waiting to happen.
Other highlights of the concert, the second of five showcase U.S. dates following a San Francisco bow two nights earlier, were the stormy “Blue Flashing Light” (a hidden track at the end of the new album), the slow and pretty “As You Are” and the fleeting-youth lament of “Slide Show.”
Travis played Chicago on Jan. 31, and does Boston Feb. 2 and Gotham Feb. 3. A full U.S. tour is expected later this year.