Vance Joy

by Sophie Griffiths

O2 Academy Bristol

Vance Joy's performance in Bristol struck a perfect balance between intimate, acoustic ballads and punchy, energetic bangers.

Photo Credit: Jack Vanzet

On Saturday night Vance Joy put on an energetic performance at O2 Academy Bristol for a packed audience. He has clearly learnt from the best – at the start of his career he supported and had endorsements from acts such as Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour; this landed him a large, international following and positive reception, not just in Melbourne where he started out. His sophomore album, Nation of Two, focuses on the highs and lows of a romantic relationship and he manages to radiate this feeling of romance though his music in a sweet and endearing way. He shot to the top of the Australian charts and is now taking over the UK with multiple dates here on his tour.

Vance Joy is best known for his lighter acoustic sounds from guitars and ukulele, which build an ambience that feels intimate and personal when you listen to the record. However, what he brings to his live shows is an extravagant live band full of strong drums and smooth bass. But my personal favourite touch to his band was the saxophonist adding some punchy notes to some of the more upbeat songs such as Like Gold and Saturday Sun – a clear favourite of the audience on a rainy Saturday night.

The indie trendsetter crowds lined the stairs and balconies with their faces slightly illuminated by the lights, offering up their reactions to each song which made it feel like a very intimate and communal listening experience at the small venue. It was very cosy and the couples all huddling together made it even more of a romantic setting. My particular favourite song of the night was Mess is Mine which combines the upbeat guitar and strong drum beats with his flawless vocals that held no restraint by the end of the song. This song allows him to really show off his vocal range at certain powerful points as the song builds in pitch.

Vance Joy initially started out by playing covers and he made sure to include a special treat during his Bristol performance. A seamless mash-up between Lionel Richie’s All Night Long and Justin Bieber’s Sorry was definitely a highlight of the performance and got the crowds moving and grooving in-between some of the more soulful folky moments. I think this break was needed after some of the slower intimate songs to keep the crowd captivated and energetic, or else the show would have been at risk of losing some of its momentum.

The concert was also strengthened by the Aussie singer’s positive and enthusiastic stage presence. He seemed like a very likeable guy, joking with the crowds where possible and avoiding being too pretentious in his explanation of the meanings behind his more personal songs. He knows exactly what his fans want and knew to finish the evening with the song that started his success, Riptide. The encore as a whole brought the night to a brilliant end and made me want to continue dancing and singing the song out loud for the entire journey home. Also the gig came just before the first sunny day of 2018, making me all the more excited for days in the sun listening to this easy and simple music that does exactly what you want it to on a summer’s day.