Review: ‘Travis’

The Scottish band Travis plays melodic and straight-ahead Brit rock that's easy to listen to and adequately fills the void left when Radiohead decided to take an artistic left turn a couple years ago.

The Scottish band Travis plays melodic and straight-ahead Brit rock that’s easy to listen to and adequately fills the void left when Radiohead decided to take an artistic left turn a couple years ago. The songs on the group’s recent third album, “The Invisible Band” (Epic), are mostly heartwarming, life-affirming tales of the triumph of love and light over darkness, and at the near-full Universal Amphitheater the quartet (with a fifth touring member on keyboards) filled the air with uplifting songs that had the crowd on its feet, cheering and singing throughout.

Singer-guitarist Fran Healy doesn’t write the most profound lyrics, considering the creative zeal of the band’s progressive yet traditionally rooted music. The tunes’ positive and sympathetic messages, however, consistently struck a chord with the happy Universal audience. Show opener “Sing,” a recent radio hit, was a good example of the best and worst of Travis in one song. “For the love you bring won’t mean a thing, unless you sing, sing, sing” warbled an impassioned Healy while he and the band, including guitarist Andy Dunlop on banjo, crafted a beautiful, Beatles-meets-Radiohead soundscape.

The finest song on “The Invisible Band” is the undeniable “Side,” and its midset appearance drew the loudest reaction of the evening. Boasting an unbeatable hook and soaring vocals of “someone watching over you” and “the grass is always greener on the other side,” the tune was also accompanied by a colorful display from the overhead lights.

Songs from the group’s breakthrough 1999 album “The Man Who,” featuring some of Healy’s better lyrics, were among the 80-minute show’s best, particularly a late-set segue of the pretty, sorrowful “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?” and the chin-up determination of “Slide Show.”

Perf ended after members of opening act Remy Zero joined for a cover of David Bowie’s hot-again “Heroes,” followed by two from Travis’ 1997 debut — the guitar-feedback-laced stomper “All I Wanna Do Is Rock” and the band’s traditional closer, “Happy.”

Travis

Universal Amphitheater; 6,353 capacity; $28.50

Production

Presented by House of Blues Concerts. Reviewed Oct. 23, 2001.

Cast

Band: Fran Healy, Andy Dunlop, Neil Primrose, Douglas Payne.
Also appearing: Remy Zero.
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