Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy burst onto the music scene in 2014 with his single Riptide, which was a worldwide hit and reached the top 10 here in the UK. This summer Vance released his first new song in three years, Lay It On Me, ahead of his second album which is due out in early 2018. As part of the Lay It On Me World Tour he’s currently in the UK, including an appearance last night at the intimate Omeara venue to play a sold-out acoustic show.
Vance came on stage to a raucous crowd reaction and opened his set with Mess Is Mine, the second single from his debut album Dream Your Life Away. The song showed off the richness of his vocal, enhanced by some impressive high notes, as well as his skill as a guitar player. Right from the off it was clear that the audience were completely immersed in the set and they were word-perfect singing along to every song, making the show feel a lot bigger than it was. Vance followed this up with the midtempo From Afar, which really allowed his vocal to soar particularly in the chorus.
Throughout the set Vance mixed tracks from Dream Your Life Away with new songs from his forthcoming album, showing off the great tone in his voice but also hitting some seriously big falsetto notes, as well as his folk-influenced and skill as a storyteller.. He also came across as very relaxed on stage, dealing well with a slightly over-enthusiastic heckler, joking with the crowd and telling the stories behind the songs. You could tell that he was having a great time up there and he was definitely feeding off the audience’s enthusiasm.
Amongst the highlights of Vance’s performance for me were the simple My Kind Of Man (which was introduced with a rambling story about his uncle, including a Simpsons reference), Fire And The Flood’s mix of darker lyrics and driving rhythm, and the gentle yet melancholy Wasted Time. I also really loved his turns of phrase on crowd favourite Georgia, putting an interesting spin on what could have been an overly saccharine song. My favourite of the new songs, meanwhile, was the bittersweet Like Gold; it had a slightly foreboding intro which is a bit of a departure from Vance’s typical sound and is something I’ll be interested to see if he explores more on the new album.
Vance ended the set with his latest single, Lay It On Me, before finishing with Riptide. It’s the song he’s best known for and was definitely the most uptempo number of the night, with clever lyrics quickly delivered and the crowd keeping up . After a roar from the crowd for an encore, he came back out to perform a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark. It suited his voice really well and I liked that the acoustic version brought out the more introspective aspects of the song.
Overall I really enjoyed Vance. He completely held the crowd’s attention (not that they needed much help to be honest!) and showed that he’s definitely one of the best singer-songwriters around at the moment. The only complaint I have is that some of the songs did become a bit ‘samey’ after a while, but that may have been due to the acoustic setup of the show so I’d be interested to see what he sounds like with a full band. That said, he delivered a very impressive performance and the new songs were a good taste of what’s to come. I’m looking forward to the new album!
Set list: 1. Mess Is Mine 2. From Afar 3. Wasted Time 4. Call If You Need Me 5. My Kind Of Man 6. Fire And The Flood 7. Like Gold 8. Take Your Time 9. Georgia 10. Lay It On Me 11. Riptide 12. Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover) Performance date: 30th October 2017