As I headed towards Brighton's Concorde 2 for tonight's gig, it dawned on me that despite catching this band several times over the past few years, this was the first time I'd be seeing The Joy Formidable at one of their own shows. I had somehow manage to knock up my count of watching the band live at numerous festivals as they toured and promoted their debut album The Big Roar solidly, and had wedged themselves firmly into my collection of favourite festival acts. Tonight they return with second album Wolfs Law following support slots for the likes of Muse and Foo Fighters, so I was interested to see how the band were at one of their own shows.

Appearing onstage to the sounds of wolves howling, backed by a huge glowing outline of a wolf head, along with the howling cheers from the crowd (you're getting the theme here right?) the band launch straight into 'Cholla', 'Austere' and ‘Ladder’. The sound is huge (earplugs are shoved firmly in by this point), as are the projections on the wall behind the band - everything is massive. Touring with those epic rock bands have certainly done The Joy Formidable no harm as their sound and visuals already exceed that of Concorde, which is no mean feat. They actually managed to bring some of that epic stadium rock and compress it into the small confines of the venue, so I'm thinking that this is potentially a sign that this may be their last tour of small venues.

The minuscule Ritzy Bryan (or the "clumsiest midget in rock" as bassist Rhydian Dafydd affectionately calls her tonight) jumps between her trademark wide-eyed stare, waggling a finger at the crowd, to jumping around the stage manically like any self-respecting rocker. Whether it's a heaver piece like 'The Greatest Light', or something a tad more tender along the lines of 'Silent Treatment' she commands the audience and is one helluva strong front-woman, all with a permanent grin across her face. But then again, she doesn't have the hardest crowd to work with this evening, as cries of "BE MY WIFE RITZY" rise up from both male and female audience members alike, she's already got everyone under her spell.


But for all the arena rock that’s happening on stage, the band haven't lost any of that banter. Except it's more than just a bit of banter with The Joy Formidable, it's far more personal than that (thought naturally, we all needed to know about drummer Matt's obsession with SMASH; "you can feed six people from one packet," apparently). Ritzy points out members of the audience that she recognises from their previous performance in Brighton, telling us she'd been hoping to find the guy who had given her a "vag lift" after a stage invasion at Audio in hope she could get him back. Seems 'that guy' was keeping quiet tonight though. Ritzy also gives a shout-out to a Scottish fan who'd travelled the length of the country to be at the show. There's such a level of intimacy with the audience, as the band genuinely do seem to give a crap about those who have come to see them.

Material from both albums sit well together intertwined on the setlist, we even get a track harking back to the 'A Balloon Called Moaning' days as 'While The Flies' is dedicated to some of those long-term fans of the band. The mosh-pit in-front of the stage never settled for a moment regardless of whether it was old or new material, even the ballads don't get a break tonight - it's a constant onslaught.

I don't expect to be seeing The Joy Formidable on this venue circuit much longer; I can hear the Academy sized venues calling out and longing for a band as great as this one. And as the band come to end their set with 'Whirring', all eyes turn to the massive gong at the side of the stage that the band carry around with them. It sits there all this time onstage, during every set, just waiting for this one song before it's used to its full effect, usually by crazed looking Ritzy, but tonight it's Matt turn. What other band carries around such a large instrument for the sake of one song?

Exactly. And that is why The Joy Formidable are brilliant.