Travis, Foundation, Newcastle

On a night of great guitar pop, the only four-letter word is nice
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The Independent Culture

"Travis are nice, but so is Des O'Connor and you wouldn't want to invite him round to your house," exclaimed a friend before tonight's gig. Judging by this, the opening night of Travis's small venue tour, however, an unnatural number of people are desperate to invite a bit of "nice" around to tea,

"Travis are nice, but so is Des O'Connor and you wouldn't want to invite him round to your house," exclaimed a friend before tonight's gig. Judging by this, the opening night of Travis's small venue tour, however, an unnatural number of people are desperate to invite a bit of "nice" around to tea,

It's the cheeky smile that does it, a toothy grin that Wet Wet Wet's Marti Pellow would have been proud of. When Travis's frontman Fran Healey breaks into one of those smiles and the crowd go mad, just for a brief second believing he's communing with them on an individual level, then you know the band could play an hour of Status Quo cover versions and still have the audience eating out of their hands.

Travis have that rare thing you see, charisma. It's a quality that goes deeper than their lead singer. It resonates throughout their songs: emotional Everyman epics perhaps, but touching on a very individual, personal level - surely what great guitar pop should do.

Travis make great guitar pop. It's only when you hear their hits lined up during this gig, which sees a return to live music for the venue once known as The Riverside, and during their Newcastle city centre busking show earlier, that you fully realise how many huge singles they've released.

Little surprise that Travis have transcended the indie barriers. Their music - all smooth lines and lilting melody - is as likely to prop up a Monday morning comedown for the club kids as it is to fuel Friday night preparations for the indie crowd. What's more, Travis cross the generation gap(s). They have got the all-important "nice" factor, you see.

This gig then is hardly an event for the unexpected: no four-letter words, amps are most certainly below "11" and, barring the axe solo histrionics during "All I Want to do is Rock", no rock excess. What you get is a band with great guitar pop songs and a crowd that devour every last nuance of the performance.

"Sing" inevitably has the crowd doing just that, while "Driftwood" brings about a flurry of fans hoisted on to shoulders to show their appreciation. "Flowers in the Window" is similarly met with the crowd's unbridled affection.

No shocks. No surprises. Just a whole lot of "nice" and a singer with a cheeky smile.What more could you ask for?

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