March 26th – Venue Nightclub – Vancouver.

Occasionally, a band comes through Vancouver, and I miss seeing them for purely logistical reasons, and then I quietly (or not so quietly) kick myself, and wonder aloud to my friends whether the band will ever make is back to our fair city. Such was the case for The Joy Formidable when they traveled here on tour and in support of their debut long player, The Big Roar, to perform at The Rickshaw Theatre back in 2011. The band hails from Northern Wales, and from my own opinion and those of other pundits, it is that the group has all the big hooks and a fresh edge to translate into a stadium-sized venues very soon.

As fortune would have it, not only did the band make it back to Vancouver, touring for their sophomore long player, The Wolf’s Law, they were booked to perform at the moderately sized Venue Nightclub in downtown Vancouver! I bought my ticket as soon as they became available, and put my name in to photograph the show.

The evening opened with strong sets from the bands, Fort Lean, and the Guards, lots of low light and fog, before moving onto the headline act.

For The Joy Formidable, all the stage monitors were removed, the boards of pedals were quickly brought on stage and the drum kit, unveiled. The show started fiercely and that energy continued throughout the set. With that said, there were moments of banter between Ritzy and the crowd: a brief conversation between stage and folks from Manchester and Liverpool, for example, and a memorable moment when she spoke of Vancouver, and the time the band spent here between tours, and of their affection for our city. A highlight among many: during Silent Treatment, Bassist Rhydian Daffyd, exchanged his bass for an acoustic 6 string while Ritzy focused on the lyrics. Throughout the show, drummer Matt Thomas

The set list for the show was identical to the SXSW 2013 performance:

This Ladder is Ours
The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade
Little Blimp
While the Flies
Silent Treatment
Maw Maw Song
I Don’t Want To See You Like This
The Ever-changing Spectrum of a Lie


Forest Serenade
Wolf’s Law

If you have a chance to see The Joy Formidable on this tour, in the more intimate surroundings of a mid-sized venue, I highly recommend you do so before they get too large for these locations and move on to the Stadiums in which their sound is destined. For more information about the band, kindly visit:

Photographs and words © Gerry Toews /
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