Vance Joy + Farewell J.R, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham 13/10/13

After being spotted whilst doing a gig in his hometown of Melbourne, James Keogh, better known by his stage name, Vance Joy, has gone on to take Australia by storm, selling out two headline tours as well as his first single, ‘Riptide’ going platinum. Now, following the release of his first EP in March this year, God Loves You When You’re Dancing, it was the folk-pop singer’s time to take on the UK. First stop, the Hare & Hounds.
First to take to the stage on Sunday evening was Farewell J.R. His understated stage presence and casual appearance – baggy plaid shirt, wild facial hair, modest stance – gave no indication of the powerful voice and talent this newcomer brought to the room. He filled every inch of the room with his emotionally driven lyrics while the crowd watched in silence. Even orders at the bar were slurred in reverent whispers. All the while, Vance Joy stood at the back watching his support act amidst the crowd. He genuinely seemed to enjoy Farewell J.R’s music, showing his appreciation along with the crowd after every song.
Although there was quite a time between acts, eventually it was time for Vance Joy, and it quickly became apparent that the wait was well worth it. His stage set up was simple; himself (again suited in the seemingly running theme of plaid shirts), his guitar and a ukulele humbly stood to his right. After a quick introduction and the obligatory, ‘thanks for coming,’ he went straight into ‘Emmylou’. It was then obvious why he has been so acclaimed for his voice. Vance Joy live actually sounds exactly as he does on his EP, something which seems wanting within the industry when to comes to live acts nowadays. Once more, the room was stunned into silence, clinging onto each word he sung. Between songs, Keogh shared anecdotes of his journey to the UK. Before starting ‘From Afar’, he explained to the crowd the way in which he how he envisions his song, “as if you were looking over a fence at the other side, seeing all the amazing things they have, then climbing back down, most happily, onto your own side.”
For the last couple of songs, the headliner swapped his guitar for his trusty uke which he strummed most merrily through ‘Playing With Fire’. Just before belting out ‘Riptide’, Keogh, with true Aussie easy-going charm, invited the crowd to join him for a few drinks and a chat after the show. His final song, naturally, was met with huge delight. After the show, I took the opportunity to say a quick hello – although it took me a few attempts – and was met with a genuine friendliness, something that seemed to come very naturally to the Aussie singer. I even managed to name drop Counteract, so hopefully he’ll be reading this with a smile, much in the same way I was smiling throughout his gig. It has been said that, “his lyrics will reach out and hold on for a moment.” And that, they truly did.
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Enthusiastic writer with an eclectic taste in music. Will listen to and enjoy (almost) anything.

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Aisling Bruce

Enthusiastic writer with an eclectic taste in music. Will listen to and enjoy (almost) anything.