It’s raining hard at Glastonbury and few are surprised, but the campers backstage are entertained by a man with a picture frame around his neck running around claiming to have been “framed”. The same man takes to the Other Stage for the opening set of the Saturday along with the other five members of The Travelling Band, up and coming folksters with more than a hint of Crosby, Stills and Nash about them.
The sun has just come out and the music floats lazily through the air. The small handful of people watching – many who haven’t gone to bed from the night before – all share in what feels like a classic Glastonbury moment, a spine-tingling feeling of discovering a new band, and much like the sunshine promising the best Glastonbury in many a year the band offer hope of a burgeoning romance.
Fast forward six months and boys are playing an altogether different set up. The test is to see if that magic feeling felt in the Somerset field can be transposed to a wet and wild night deep in South London. The venue is the Bedford, a beast of a pub locally renowned for live music and comedy spanning its three floors.
Surely it is a walk in the park for the band who won not only Glastonbury’s talent search, but a personal recommendation from festival legend Michael Eavis which got them the opening gig on the Other Stage this year.
Playing an extended set with tracks off their new album, , the six-piece began softly, utilising their penchant for country style male harmonies. Indeed, with long hair a theme and checked shirts aplenty there is more than a hint of Wild West about the boys as they got into their stride. A cross between Badly Drawn Boy and Bob Dylan, with a dash of modern pop for good measure, the band is well received by the middle class bohemians not quite pretentious enough for Clapham who frequent the Balham pub.
The soft folk melodies are gradually replaced with more toe thumping tunes with tracks such as Only Waiting and the excellent High Five, which loses much of the folky strand of some of the album and embraces true rhythm and blues routes, tackling the ever present hardship in blues of heading down a road.
Amid banter about Spurs beating Manchester City (lead singer Joe supports the North London outfit, while most of the other members are City fans) a member of the audience heckles praise before departing. There is much love among the crowd and this is shown in demanding an encore, which the Travelling Band duly oblige to. An acoustic version of Sundial fills the theatre as much as when the PAs were on and again the male harmonies float longingly around the room.
And then they were off, travelling, midway through a mammoth tour of pretty much everywhere in the UK. Did they recreate that hazy Glastonbury day? Not quite, but on a cold and wet Monday evening, there was a little bit of warmth radiating from the direction of the Bedford.
Words: Peter Truman