Travis, Barrowlands, Glasgow

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The Independent Culture

Amid items for sale at Travis's merchandise counter, it's the Babygros bearing the phrase "Born to Rock" that capture the attention. Clearly the band are catering for the demographic to which they themselves belong; a generation of thirtysomething new parents for whom the rock lifestyle isn't actually a leading priority.

Of the band's four core members, singer Fran Healy, guitarist Andrew Dunlop and drummer Neil Primrose are all new fathers, while Healy excitedly points out more than once that bassist Dougie Payne is expecting his first child with his wife, the actress Kelly Macdonald. The decidedly merry capacity crowd are only too happy to celebrate loudly.

It's hard to gauge Travis's current popularity when they're playing in Glasgow on the eve of Hogmanay. The band, who slogged for half a decade around the city's live circuit before achieving fame in the late Nineties, could probably play regularly until retirement age here and still receive a generous, loving response.

Travis's music, it seems, goes well with swaying, drunken good cheer and a willingness to sing along with gusto. Yet the cosy familiarity papers over a musical sensibility that has slowly been drained of adventure. Songs from their five-album career are mixed up in a hit-heavy set that seems to please the fans, yet it's clear that the band's most fruitful days were the early ones. The first album, Good Feeling, is represented by the breezy guitar-pop of the title track and the compelling choral tease of "All I Want To Do Is Rock", the band's debut single in 1997. This song features an amusing staged crowd-surf with guitar in hand from Dunlop.

From The Man Who come the best examples of Travis's signature style; jangling troubadours singing bittersweet anthems with a hint of existential doubt. The sparkling "Driftwood" is the best, although "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" is a perennial favourite. But equally famous later tracks like "Sing", "Side" and "Turn" seem like glib rehashes of the formula, often with the single-syllable title repeated over and over in place of a chorus. "Turn" at least has the advantage of a vocal part from fan favourite Payne.

Healy's scissor-kicking and vertical guitar playing seem unsuited to the music. When the vaguely downbeat tone of "Slide Show" and the fact that "Blue Flashing Light" sounds a bit like Oasis's "Morning Glory" are the edgiest points of the show, it becomes clear that Travis were never, ultimately, born to rock.

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