Vance Joy is an Australian singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia. He held a homecoming show last night in Melbourne at iconic venue The Forum as part of The Lay It On Me Tour. The Lay It On Me Tour promotes his new singles “Lay It On Me” and “Like Gold” from his upcoming album Nation of Two which is to be released in February 2018. With his most popular track “Riptide” voted number 1 on the 2013 Triple J Hottest 100 countdown and winning at the 2015 Aria Music Awards for Best Male Artist, it is no surprise his double date tour sold-out in both Sydney and Melbourne.
The Forum Melbourne is always ticketed as general admission, so you must get in early to gain a good spot. Although the venue is mostly standing room only, there are booths which you can sit in at the venue but only a handful are usually available. To my surprise, it didn’t take long for the line into The Forum to wind around the alleyways surrounding the venue. Upon entering The Forum, I was in awe at the interior as the theatre is one of my favourite live music venues and has undergone under a recent refurbishment. Casually, I walked to the front barrier.
Gretta Ray supported Vance Joy performing tracks including her well known songs “Unwind” and “Drive”. You forget that she is only 19 and won the Triple J Unearthed competition back in 2016. While she seems very natural on stage when holding a guitar, she seemed quite awkward when without one. This was a minor thing as for the most part Gretta Ray performed well and it has been a while since I’ve enjoyed a support act at a gig.
When Australia’s gentle folk giant walked onto stage, the excitement in the theatre was electric. From the angle of where I was at the barrier, I could see Vance Joy focus, inhale and exhale off-stage before presenting himself to the audience. Wielding a guitar, Vance Joy kicked off his performance with “Fire In The Floor” encouraging the audience to sing along. Vance Joy was often smiling with a genuine delight to be playing to a sold-out home crowd. His shy temperament was utterly charming, but at the same time Vance Joy still had an amazing stage presence and commanded the stage, often stomping and marching in one spot to the beat of his songs. Vance Joy is a natural wordsmith with Australian storytelling. Although his songs are quite simple, his songwriting is powerful with raw sentiment that is simultaneously captivating and freeing. His bucolic vocals seamlessly switch between deep tones and high falsetto which is also mesmerising.
For the encore, Vance Joy whipped out a ukulele for “Riptide” and made full use of the two horn players in his band to perform a catchy, upbeat and fun rendition of “Lay It On Me”, the song of which the tour is named after. He then gave his set list to a fan he had been watching sing every word and placed his arms around his band mates as they bowed together gratefully.
After the show, I was elated and full of joy (pun intended). My partner and I decided to wait at stage door with a handful of other fans as my partner wanted to get his Vance Joy vinyl signed. Previously this year, my partner and I moved into a new suburb and had met Vance Joy randomly in January at the local supermarket. Upon discussing that was at the time still brewing new music, my partner and I had promised that when he had a gig again we would attend. To our surprise, everyone at stage door was invited back into the venue to meet Vance Joy. Vance Joy took the time to ask each person their names and personalised everything that he signed. He happily gave every fan and hug and thanked them for coming to the show. I was impressed by this notion as Vance Joy still had a gig to perform the next night in another city. I found his genuine humbleness and commitment to his fans endearing. My partner and I were last in line to meet Vance Joy. Although we were last, the moment didn’t seem at all rushed, but relaxed and it felt like we were having a conversation with an old friend. Vance Joy recognised my partner straight away and remembered us from our supermarket meet cute.
It is easy to forget that Vance Joy (or James Gabriel Keogh, which is his real name) is not only locally loved but internationally adored having toured with the likes of Taylor Swift. For someone who has performed in stadiums, to be genuinely overjoyed (pun intended) to perform in small theatres to a home crowd, Vance Joy remains humble. With brilliant unique songwriting, a good heart and charming demeanour, Vance Joy is a national treasure and it is evident that he will be around for years to come.
Vance Joy’s Lay It On Me Tour has two Australian stops; he performed in Melbourne at at The Forum on November 22nd and will perform in Sydney tonight at the Enmore Theatre.