Thousands pack Fremantle Arts Centre for Vance Joy’s Nation of Two tour

Vance Joy performing at Fremantle Arts Centre on September 23. Picture: Sarah Brookes
Vance Joy performing at Fremantle Arts Centre on September 23. Picture: Sarah Brookes
Vance Joy performing at Fremantle Arts Centre on September 23. Picture: Sarah Brookes
Vance Joy performing at Fremantle Arts Centre on September 23. Picture: Sarah Brookes Vance Joy performing at Fremantle Arts Centre on September 23. Picture: Sarah Brookes Vance Joy performing at Fremantle Arts Centre on September 23. Picture: Sarah Brookes

IT’S well known amongst Melbourne singer/songwriter James Keogh’s legion of fans he pilfered his stage name Vance Joy from a Peter Carey novel, that he is a smart cookie with a law degree under his belt and that he hung up his footy boots for a career in the fickle music biz.

But when Vance Joy hit the stage last night in front of a sold-out crowd for his Nation of Two Tour, who knew he also had an abnormally large glow-in-the-dark tooth courtesy of a bike accident when he was 10.

The comical anecdote was one of many Joy shared with the 3500-strong crowd that packed the lawn overlooked by the gothic facade of the Fremantle Arts Centre.

The gaggle of swooning young things lapped up the personal stories which he interspersed with a set drawing from the old and the new.

The night kicked off with sweet love song Call If You Need Me. This was followed by Mess is Mine from his 2014 debut album Dream Your Life Away which featured international hit Riptide which catapulted Joy into mega stardom and exposed the world to his infectious lyrics and catchy guitar riffs.

Riptide could easily have made Joy a one-hit wonder but his second album is evidence he has nailed the easy, breezy melodies as he explores the highs and lows of relationships.

Joy says songs are like mysteries. They come out of nowhere just like people you meet. For months he had the words “Everything is fine/When your head’s resting next to mine” which he couldn’t fit into a song. He found a home for the lyrics in Fire and the Flood which prompted the crowd to join in for a good old-fashioned singalong.

It left the half-seas-over fans screaming for more, some who were obviously dreaming of him as he followed suit with I’m With You.

Joy’s delicate and emotive signature vocals truly shine when he strips it back to just him and his acoustic guitar, as he demonstrated with From Afar.

The crowd became feverish as the ukulele made an appearance. But it was too early in the night for the ukulele-fuelled Riptide and instead Joy delivered Little Boy which delved into his childhood and that bike accident that landed him in a hospital emergency room. After flying over his handlebars like Superman, Joy lost a front tooth. In a cruel case of cosmetic dentistry gone wrong, it was replaced by an oversized adult tooth, which he awkwardly discovered at a nightclub at 18 also had glow-in-the-dark super powers.

It was perhaps apt that as Joy launched into Bonnie and Clyde and Waste of Time the smell of pot wafted through the air.

Joy dug out mellow crowd favourite Georgia and then raised tempo with a rousing rendition of We’re Going Home.

Joy said it wasn’t until 2009 he felt brave enough to share his music outside of his close network of family and friends. Lucky for us some songs never saw the light of day, as he recounted playing for his friend, who diplomatically critiqued the song by saying he thought it was really cool Joy could sing and play guitar at the same time. Ouch.

Joy deviated from his discography just once and why he chose Lionel Richie’s cheesy All Night Long was beyond me. But it was a signal the night was nearly over. Out came the ukulele for Riptide before finishing off with Saturday Sun.

There’s something immensely likeable about Joy. He has a boyish charm and is the kind of guy your nanna would call a sweetie.

And he’s clearly gaining traction overseas, with his world tour set for a host of gigs in South America, Mexico and Europe.

Joy’s Australian leg of the tour winds up tonight with his second sold-out performance at the Fremantle Arts Centre.