Gene Simmons was a primary school teacher in Spanish Harlem before embarking in a career in panto-rock, Ozzy Osbourne worked in an abattoir slicing open cow’s stomachs whilst Jack White was a master upholsterer in Detroit specialising in chaise lougues. Jay Z, meanwhile, concentrated his efforts on selling crack cocaine to the residents of Brooklyn. Everyone’s got to make a living.
Only 18 months ago Vance Joy, AKA James Keogh, swapped the lucrative but ultimately soul destroying world of law for the Elysian fields of folk music. His career has been going gangbusters ever since.
Following the half hearted completion of his law degree Joy chipped away at Melbourne’s open mike scene until the success of uber-single Riptide, a radio-friendly sunbeam of folk-pop, from his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing catapulted him out of obscurity. Now Vance inhabits a world of sold out tours, A-list radio play and a 5 album deal with Atlantic.
However, judging by tonight’s performance, it is probably best he doesn’t flog all his law books just yet.
Whilst the bulk of the ladies in the audience smile with lovelorn intoxication and Joy’s film star looks they will only get him so far. Whilst everything is competently played there is a distinct lack of variety and dynamism to the performance. Songs like Snaggletooth, Best That I Can and My Kind of Man meander along similar folky cul-de-sacs. The mid tempo strumming is screaming out for a guitar solo or a counter melodies of any kind. Frankly, it’s all a bit drab.
It’s a fabulous song and Joy is new to the art of stage craft so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. He will surely become more confident and accomplished on stage (and on record) as his career progresses. As Leonard Cohen said if he knew where all the good songs came from
“he’d go there more often”
Let’s hope Joy isn’t just passing through that magical land on his way to his final destination of Onehitswonderville.