During Travis’s set at the 1999 Glastonbury Festival, the heavens opened, just as the first bars of Why Does it Always Rain on Me? rang out across Worthy Farm. It was a watershed moment for the band.
As news of this spread, their second album, The Man Who, began to climb the charts. By the end of the year, they had their first number one album and two Brit Awards. The following summer, Travis headlined Glastonbury.
With Britpop petering out, and the UK garage scene yet to hit the mainstream, a tide of gentle, melodic rock washed over Britain. Travis spawned countless imitations, most notably Keane and Snow Patrol. Even Coldplay’s Chris Martin admitted that Travis were “the band that invented my band”.
For all that, though, critical acclaim has often eluded Travis. They have never been able to shake off the accusation that their music is just too safe, too boring.
Nevertheless, 17 years after The Man Who, Travis recently announced their eighth studio album and a nine-date arena tour. Tickets for this intimate warm-up show sold out in less than two minutes. Not bad for a band who have supposedly got a spot of drizzle to thank for their success.
It would probably be fair to say that Travis fans know what they like – and like what they know. Perhaps because of this, the band has rarely wavered from the formula – breezy hooks, carefree lyrics and euphoric choruses – that has served them so well. There has been no need to evolve.
It was a surprise, then, to hear the spasmodic techno and garbled vocals of Everything At Once, the title track from the new album, opening this comeback show. Were Travis really about to deviate from the path that brought them four consecutive top ten albums between 1999 and 2007? The concerned glances being exchanged in the crowd suggested that this would be unwise.
As it happens, however, this was the only blip in an otherwise uplifting, if predictable, evening. What other new material that was performed (including the the joyous single, 3 Miles High) sat cosily alongside favourites such as Driftwood, Sing and Writing to Reach You.
But the highlight was a cracking rendition of Closer, from 2007’s The Boy With No Name, which demonstrated that Healy has lost none of his vocal range.
Otherwise, there was affable chat between songs from a weathered-looking Healy, whose straggly grey hair was pulled into a man-bun; lots of swaying in the crowd; and, as the band concluded with Why Does it Always Rain on Me?, yet another rousing reminder of how it all started.