With his delicate boyish charm and subdued stage presence, James Keogh, aka Vance Joy, graced the Thebarton Theatre with a raw and humble performance. The Dream Your Life Away tour showcases the best of Keogh’s unique folky pop sound and simple but emotive lyrics that hits you right in the feels.

Words by Giselle Bueti

Photos by Kellie Leaver


Airling, the moniker of Brisbane local Hannah Shepherd, opened the show with a powerful performance.  Accompanied by two backing instrumentalists, Shepherd hypnotised those paying attention with her ethereal vocals and dream like beats. She closed the set with enchanting renditions of two of her more popular songs, ‘Runner’ and ‘Wasted Pilots,’ proving that she is definitely one of Australia’s most brilliant emerging talents.

Following Airling was the deliciously gifted #1 Dads, who delivered such a gorgeously sincere show that I almost forgot they were the support act. Produced as a side project by Big Scary’s front man, Tom Lansek, #1 Dads supply a cathartic rock/pop vibe, layered with muffled drum beats, catchy riffs and Lansek’s tender vocals. Performing in front of a chattering, inattentive crowd, it took a couple of songs for the set to gain full momentum. Hannah Shepherded reappeared to offer her vocals for ‘So Solider,’ gaining some attention, but it wasn’t until, ‘Return To,’ that things really started to pick up. The highlight of the set was during, ‘Camberwell,’ when one of the band members whipped out a saxophone and busted a badass solo that demanded attention. Closing the set with the beautiful, ‘Sister,’ Lansek and his band left the audience buzzing, perfectly setting up the ambiance for Vance Joy.

Opening with the melody ‘From Afar,’ Vance Joy prepared the audience for a pleasurable evening of beautiful music. Performing mostly songs from his 2014 debut album, Dream Your Life Away, the set list was slightly predictable with the exception of a few surprises. ‘Wasted Time,’ got the audience swaying, whilst ‘Mess is Mine,’ had everyone singing along. He then offered a slow version of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark,’ a random but pleasant choice.

Joy introduced each song, sometimes adding a brief background or story creating an intimate and nostalgic connection to the lyrics. He dedicated, ‘My Kind of Man,’ to a Good Samaritan and retold the story of how he came to write, ‘Best that I can.’

With themes of sadness and longing, ‘Georgia,’ and ‘Emmylou’, awakened a sombre mood. But the atmosphere was lifted with an upbeat performance of ‘Riptide,’ which proved to still be a crowd favourite.

The encore had Joy switching to the ukulele for ‘Play with Fire,’ before closing the show with a sweet rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain,’ accompanied by Tom Lansek on the guitar.

Joy emitted an endearing but reserved quality that gave his performance a pleasant but somewhat flat feel. There was a delicate folk vibe that was verging on something deeper and more vulnerable, but fell just short of the mark. Despite this, it was still an enjoyable performance that left the audience feeling all warm and happy inside.