Tuesday night, February 16th, Vance Joy played for Indianapolis fans and WTTS listeners at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre. It was a chilly evening, the crowd was diverse, and the theatre was full of movement. While openers Armstrong Leigh and Jamie Lawson got the crowd ready for Vance Joy, he spent a few moments with some lucky WTTS listeners. Winners of “Lyrically Speaking” with Laura Duncan got to take part in a meet and greet backstage, which is just another perk of listening to WTTS.
Armstrong Leigh is a duo based in both Austin and Los Angeles. Jamie Lawson is a British, acoustic singer-songwriter who Ed Sheeran signed as the first artist on his label, Gingerbread Man Records. The audience very much enjoyed both bands, but was very anxious to see Vance Joy. Vance Joy (James Gabriel Keogh) is an Australian singer-songwriter whose 2013 single “Riptide” brought him into public focus. In fact, “Riptide” was WTTS’ song of the year in 2014. His album “Dream Your Life Away” was released in September 2014 and WTTS listeners were so fortunate that he stopped in town on his Fire And The Flood Tour.
The back of the stage held a giant canvas that almost looked like an abstract watercolor painting with all kinds of bright colors. In front of the color stood the letters of Vance Joy in white bulbs. The stage was set for the 6-piece band including drums, keys, bass, trumpet, saxophone/percussion, and Vance Joy himself. Four huge can lights shined toward the crowd with a warm yellow light even in the darkness between songs. It may have been freezing outside, but the theatre was cozy. When the theater lights went down, the crowd began to scream before he was even seen. The band took the stage and played beautiful atmospheric sounds for around a minute before the drums picked up and became more aggressive. Then, Vance Joy entered the stage, tall and statuesque (he’s 6’4”), with the letters of his name shining behind him. Wearing a simple black shirt and jeans, he let the music speak for him.
He opened the show with “Mess Is Mine” to a screaming, diverse crowd of young women, middle-aged couples, and everything in between. After he had played a few songs, something subtly striking happened. He finished a song, the crowd cheered, and the cheers lulled, as expected, before the next song. Then, however, this crowd felt they needed more. Vance Joy did not do anything from stage to warrant the next wave of cheers that came from the crowd; His audience just loves him that much and wanted him to know. Throughout the night, the audience clapped along or even sang along to Vance Joy’s music, but none of it was prompted. These Indianapolis fans knew and loved the music, and everyone in the room could feel it.
Highlights of the night included “From Afar,” “Wasted Time,” “Georgia,” and “Riptide.” When he brought out his ukulele for a few songs (including “Riptide”), he even paused to take a “selfie” of himself with the crowd on an audience member’s phone. The shock of the night was when Vance Joy and the band suddenly broke out into a cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” mashed up with OMI’s “Cheerleader.” It was the perfect mix of songs to get all members of the crowd dancing, young and old. He closed with it and exited the stage. When he re-entered for his encore, he played “My Kind Of Man” and “Fire And The Flood.”
Vance Joy was happy to be in Indianapolis that night. He was delightful during the WTTS meet and greet. He smirked, during some songs, out of pure joy in playing them. He gave an anecdote for every single song before he played it, telling the song’s story of where it came from or what it made him think of. He thanked Indianapolis for having a blue sky that day because he hadn’t seen one in a while. Vance Joy has an exciting future ahead of him, evidenced by the way he left his Indianapolis audience beaming. WTTS will be anxiously awaiting his return, and you won’t want to miss Vance Joy next time he’s around.