Gig Review and Interview: Vance Joy – 12.10.13 @ The Castle Hotel

Jules met with Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy before reviewing his gig at the Castle Hotel below!

After unleashing my inner German on journey planning, I arrived at the Castle Hotel in the Northern Quarter a cool 45-minutes early (I will never EVER be fashionably late) for my Vance Joy interview. Also, they were running late with interviews, which meant I was left to lurk awkwardly in a corner in my 1940s spy coat – Two separate groups were having their respective sit-down birthday parties, to which I was clearly not invited. Hooray for mobile phones, but there is only so much imaginary e-mail checking a girl can do.

When it was at last my turn to go and interview James Keough, AKA Vance Joy, Australian singer-songwriter, who is best known for his infectious folk-pop single “Riptide”, I was slightly (read: very) nervous, not only because it was my first interview for FUSE FM, but also because I really, really enjoy Vance Joy’s music.

Meeting James Keough was an absolute pleasure. He was friendly, authentic and funny and didn’t mind me reading him the lyrics of Motörhead’s “Snaggletooth” – a song title they share, or asking questions about Australian christmas (seems Christmas time is beach time – I’m pretty jealous!). He had just returned from a US tour supporting Tom Odell and seemed a little jetlagged, but nevertheless very excited to play the sold out gig at the Castle Hotel.

Anyhoo, if you would like to listen to my interview with our soft-spoken Australian hero, who was awarded Platinum for his single “Riptide” back home this year, you can do so here

vance joy

Camera, y u no better? Vance Joy is a glowing spectre on every one of my photos…

I was lucky enough to weasel into the actual gig after the interview and I am glad I did – the atmosphere in the intimate venue was great – though I am quite bad at judging these things I’d say there were no more than 200 people tightly packed into the room. James Keough entertained the audience with stories of obnoxious people on long-haul flights and management discussions about how to make his songs catchier, which prompted him to include some earwormy bababababa-bits in “Wasted Time”.

Vance Joy played a very stripped back acoustic set, just him and his guitar and ukulele. The music conjured up images of the sun and the sea, of prairies and campfires, of beautiful people enjoying their outrageous youth.

Vance Joy’s music is definitely an easy-listen, with instantly catchy tunes, but very colourful in its simplicity.

A lot of his songs, like the heartfelt and mellow “From Afar”  fall into that category which I call in my mind “Music for walking away from your life” – just imagine that scene in the film, where the main protagonist walks/drives/flies determinedly off into the sunset, after quitting his awful job/relationship etc. – Film execs should be ringing Vance Joy’s management right now!

I thoroughly enjoyed the gig and think I was not alone – during the last two songs (Play with fire and Riptide – Ukulele Time!) the audience was dancing and singing along and James was immediately swarmed by fans after the gig. Vance Joy will start recording his first studio album this autumn and I think he is definitely one to watch!

Unleashing the inner fan girl - He’s so tall!

Unleashing the inner fan girl – He’s so tall!

Debut EP ‘God Loves You When You’re Dancing’

Set list:


From Afar


Dancing In The Dark

All I Ever Wanted

Wasted Time


Play with Fire



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