10/29/2014 – Paradise Rock Club

Catchy folk-pop tune “Riptide” might be the chart-topping hit everyone’s been humming, but the crowd of 20-somethings that packed Paradise were in for more than just a one-hit wonder.

Under dim golden lights, Vance Joy and his band hushed the babbling crowd with the first few notes of “Emmylou.” The crowd wasn’t quiet for long though; these were dedicated indie fans with a strong love for this Australian darling and they belted out lyrics with boundless enthusiasm. After, with sweetly shy demeanor, Vance thanked everyone for coming and broke into the next bubbly folk anthem.

Vance doesn’t need to shout and rage all over the stage; people quieted and leaned closer to hear the gently cascading tones of “From Afar.” While percussion, bass and keyboard provided a gentle backdrop, Vance remained center stage, strumming and staring off into the far distance as if lost in thought. Although the songs often blended together indistinctly, Vance broke in every so often with a backstory to the upcoming song; reminding the crowd that these weren’t factory made, but hand crafted. “My uncle gave me some advice when I was younger that inspired me to pursue music full time. I originally quoted it in this song…until my dad later pointed out it was from a Lynard Skynard song,” he laughed. “But the message is still the same: Find something you love and understand.” “My Kind of Man” proved to be a yearning, soulful cry that resonated with everyone there as they swayed spellbound.

Vance’s songs have an honest simplicity to them that is reminiscent of Bon Iver, and a gentle charm that gives him a hypnotic stage presence. His performance feels like an intimate confession: “And I could easily lose my mind / The way you kiss me will work each time / Pulling me back into the flames /and I’m burning up again.” The words came gracefully tumbling out during “Georgia,” the entire crowd swayed in euphoria, hands held out as if to touch Vance, eyes closed singing their hearts out to the ceiling.

With nothing more than a guitar and sincere songs, Vane Joy ensnared us all, but the climax came when the first chords of “Riptide” rippled out across the room; every soul was bouncing and singing along. Though that was clearly the song the room had been waiting for, Vance drew the crowd back in for his tender, catchy driving tune “Mess is Mine.” After, Vance gave one more heartfelt thank you, a shy wave and he was gone. As people trickled out into the drizzly night, the faint melody echoed around the street as fans dispersed; still humming.

Pure Australian Charm: Vance Joy
Pros
  • Boatloads of talent
  • Genuine & heartfelt performance
  • Enthusiastic crowd
Cons
  • Crowd sometimes drowned out Vance
  • Songs sometimes hard to differentiate
  • Not much interaction
7.7Overall Score

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