Back in the mid to late eighties a wave of bands appeared as the NME lazily attempted to create a scene known as ‘blonde’. The Primitives, The Darling Buds, and Birdland; all these groups produced rampaging bedsit classics - indie-guitar noise with a pop sensibility sung by lead singers with blonde hair. After a brief flirtation with the charts they all but disappeared, re-union tours and events not withstanding.
Cut forward to 2010 and The Joy Formidable seem to be doing their very best to bring ‘blonde’ back. As wide-eyed lead singer Ritzy gives a little tug on her guitar lead and blitzes with soaring sophistication into The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade it seems that this band are going to fully live up to their name.
All eyes may be focussed on the diminutive singer, but The Joy Formidable are very much three equal parts. Their drummer Matt positioned side of stage is a sweaty, skinny lank-haired rock monster, physically at odds with Ritzy’s cool blissful movement, whilst bassist Rhydian brings muscle and composure to the bands music. And in the live context, what music it is. The Joy Formidable fill Brighton Audio with a huge joyous racket, one that takes shoe-gaze and makes it look upwards, compounding even grey haired bespectacled men who should know better to mosh like they are teenagers, punching the air in a sweaty undignified way. These are the simple pleasures that such noise-pop can provide. The swathes of feedback and fuzzy guitars create the near perfect indie rock ‘n’ roll combustion that is satisfying to the max.
Yet away from the Welsh-now-London trio’s big sonic wall there are simple gestures from the band that endear to the audience. Ritzy shows everyone how the set list has been written on a paper plate, complains that she wants to see everyone in the room - but due to the lighting the audience is just a silhouette and later blows an offhanded kiss to the crowd. The real kiss tonight though was from the bands sound; raucous, blissfully potent, a real pop-rush orgasm. Blonde was well and truly back.