Ode to Vance Joy


Sanjana Singh/Observer

The singer-songwriter, known for his hit “Riptide,” performed for an enthusiastic audience at the House of Blues Cleveland.

Last Monday, Vance Joy brought his charm and talent to the House of Blues Cleveland. The Australian singer-songwriter first earned fame with “Riptide,” one of his hit singles, and continued to the road of fame when he began opening for Taylor Swift this past year. This time he’s part of his own Fire and the Flood Tour in cities across North America.

His recent Cleveland show started off with two opening acts: Armstrong Lee and Jamie Lawson. Armstrong Lee is an indie pop duo from Texas. The singer, Michelle Armstrong, had amazing range and pitch through every song, but the group’s stage presence was lacking because of Armstrong’s somewhat exaggerated dancing. Some of the song’s lyrics were unoriginal, but the onstage chemistry was great, including the killer guitar solos by Christopher Lee.

The second opener was Jamie Lawson, a singer-songwriter who was the first to join Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records. But his red hair and British accent are not the only things he has in common with the famous “Thinking Out Loud” singer. With his acoustic, pop ballad style, he charmed his audience with his thoughtful lyrics, soothing voice and subtle humor.

One particular moment was when he humored the Cleveland audience, singing his song “It’s Cold in Ohio,” joking that he co-wrote this song to explain how he would never come to Ohio because of the cold weather but ended up there anyway. Lawson showed promise with his deep song lyrics and his silent command of the stage. By the end of his set list, the whole crowd was excitedly singing his most famous song “Wasn’t Expecting That.”

But the show did not begin until the man himself, Vance Joy, came on stage. Roaring with enthusiasm, the crowd’s excitement made it clear why the show sold out quickly in the first place. His stage presence and live performance resonated toward the great overall vibe of the crowd.

Like Lawson, his songs had thought-provoking lyrics, but his song list had a better range of topics. One minute he would sing about returning home to a loved one in “Straight into Your Arms;” the next minute he tugged at the audience’s heartstrings in “Emmylou,” where he sang a lullaby to his future child.

When he played his most popular song, “Riptide,” on his ukulele, the audience, familiar with the song, took over parts of the chorus for him. Even when the show was over, his fans did not stop the applause until long after Joy walked offstage.

Bands: Vance Joy, Armstrong Lee, Jamie Lawson
Date: Feb. 15, 2016
Venue: House of Blues Cleveland
Rating: ★★★★½