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The Travelling Band - The Deaf Institute, Manchester


Mid December last year, Manchester’s musical stalwarts, The Travelling Band, took to Twitter to appeal for information regarding their missing tour van, which had been stolen the previous night. Adding to their misery, it included the band’s entire collection of equipment, a unique selection of instruments that the five-piece folk group had spent most of their lives accumulating. Guitarist Adam Gorman awoke one morning to discover his house had been broken into. After stealing is X- Box, opportunist thieves had stolen the keys before driving off in the van, which was parked up outside following a show in Leeds the previous night.

For any musician, having your instruments stolen is as low as it gets, akin to being stripped naked and thrown into the wilderness. But this case left a particularly sour taste. Since winning Glastonbury’s New Talent competition in 2008 and rising to a national stage, The Travelling Band have released three albums without major-label backing, consistently touring inbetween and gaining a loyal fan base.

Surviving independently as a band in such austere times isn’t easy, with small venues facing a similar battle. The Travelling band’s ‘do it yourself’ ethos instils faith and inspiration in anyone wishing to pursue a similar, musical voyage. As well as flying the proverbial flag for every hard-working band out there, their live shows boast an incredible reputation, showcasing an eclectic mix of song-writing and collective musicianship.

Within a day, news of the stolen van had spread like wildfire. Every major online news outlet ran the story, along with the likes of Guy Garvey and Clint Boon showing their support. The level of love, support and instrument offerings were heartfelt gestures, epitomising a general show of gratitude and appreciation for a band who’ve worked so hard.

With recording sessions booked for January, their plans and potential futures had taken a nose dive into the abyss. They vowed to continue, with seemingly every man and his dog rooting for their success. Miraculously, the van was spotted three days later abandoned in the Beswick area of Manchester. After an agonising overnight wait, it was soon discovered that the equipment in the back remained intact. The band and city as a whole rejoiced and plans for a celebratory show at The Deaf Institute were soon announced.

Such sentiments and heartfelt gestures hung in the air as a completely sold-out Deaf Institute witnessed their finest home-town show to date. Salford born support act, Ren Harvieu, warms up an appreciative crowd effortlessly with sumptuous vocal tones and a diverse set, proving why she remains to be one of the most promising female artists out there.

The Travelling band burst into a rousing rendition of ‘Sundial’, taken from second album, Screaming Is Something. “If I had a home, to call my own, then I wouldn’t need a Sundial, to stop me roaming around” – sings lead singer and multi instrumentalist, Jo Dudderidge. The lyrics are a perfect depiction of a band’s endless journeys, backed by thumping drums and a signature, uplifting guitars.

Although all three of their albums are timeless, showcasing music that simply will not age, it’s difficult to compare the records to their mountainous, euphoric live sound. It’s something that can only arise from a group of incredibly close friends, who live and breath what they create. After eight years of playing together, they’re gigs pack a real punch, rekindling various waves of emotion within the crowd. There’s something special in the air tonight, with the Deaf Institute’s acoustics compliment this perfectly.

Taken from the same album ‘Battlescars’ receives raucous applause, whilst new song ‘Quicksand’ is some of their most accomplished work to date. As with most Travelling Band shows, the atmosphere is one of a carnival. Although lyrical tones occasionally pull on heartstrings, there’s an general sense of joy, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular at festivals throughout Europe.

Considering it’s seven years old ‘Only Waiting’ sounds more poignant than ever, proving that the band’s depth of song-writing will surely stand the test of time. Taken from their latest album, The Big Defreeze, ‘Passing Ships’ is a personal favourite, utilising harmonies that sit on a bed of guitar-picking perfection.

Taking a slightly more ‘plugged in’ approach to their usual blend of finely crafted, folk styled indie, ‘Hands Up’ teeters on power-ballad territory, with a blistering electric guitar riff and powerful vocals. It’s given a new lease of life on stage, ensuring a swaying audience indulge in every second of it’s anthemic prowess.

In homage to their fans who, en masse, helped to secure the safe return of their trusty touring mobile endeared equipment, The Travelling Band end with a charming cover of ‘I get by with a little help from my friends.’ A touching sentiment from a band who have gradually become an institution in the hearts of many, long may they continue to thrive and exist.

“You can steal our vans, but you can’t steal our fans.”

Joe Martin