Friday 14 December 2018



"You wear your socks to bed, that's what I do. Oh come on sleepyhead, get yourself to bed…" Jaysus, there's your warning sign.

Indeed, young James Keogh, aka Vance Joy, is something of a repeat offender in the lyrics department. "You'll find out that the deepest cut is the first time," he sings on the dreary First Time. Er, Cat Stevens got there first, dude. And he was a little more articulate about it.

Born and raised in Melbourne, Vance Joy gave up a career in football and law to be a musician, swiping his nom de plume from a Peter Carey novel. Smash single Riptide may have done serious business worldwide (ukulele-assisted, indie-folk ditties always do), but the acoustic guitar-slinger's debut album recently crashed in at the wrong end of the top-30. Was Vance Joy just a summer fling? Maybe.

The bearded, floppy-fringed troubadour bears all the resemblance of a shy support act, caught off-guard by a full house. Maybe it's the nerves, but tonight, even Vance doesn't seem all that interested in his material.

Armed with a slight and decidedly dull songbook (you'd find better tracks about love, travel and heartbreak on a James Blunt record), Vance Joy (above) spends the best part of an hour searching for a tune that'll stick. He's only got the one, and you can literally see his fans getting restless. "Imagine if he doesn't play it," says the girl beside me. He does...right at the end. By then, that trembling, nondescript whimper of his has all but worn us out.

The showmanship needs to improve. Non- stories about red-eye flights won't cut it, and though VJ's band make a lot of noise, they rarely, if ever, provide anything more than a beige backdrop. Nice guy, but he's got one-hit-wonder written all over him. HHIII

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