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Vance Joy Concert Review: Some ‘Saturday Sun’ to Cure the Boston Cold

By Addison Y. Liu
By Sarah M. Rojas, Crimson Staff Writer

Feb 8. was a regular Wednesday night in Boston — predictably windy, reliably cold, eerily quiet in Fenway. Though for the select few who were lucky enough to fill the audience at MGM Music Hall, the night was full of an unpredictable radiance and warmth as Vance Joy stopped by on his “In Our Own Sweet Time” tour.

As one of the first stops on the international tour, the Australian singer-songwriter graced the stage to promote his 2022 album, “In Our Own Sweet Time.”Despite the setlist highlighting his new music, Joy made sure to sprinkle in classic fan favorites — “Saturday Sun,” “Missing Piece,” “Fire and the Flood,” and of course “Riptide” — throughout the setlist.

It’s quite common nowadays for concerts to overstimulate on the audiovisuals — to swell with complicated light displays, costume changes, and background dancers. But not in a Vance Joy concert. Vance Joy stands out in his ability to turn simple melodies into songs that change people, and his concert exemplified his appreciation for simplicity. Between fan favorites, Joy gave fans a glimpse into his musical process, offering an inside look into his life as a songwriter.

During the show, Joy candidly admitted how hard it can be to begin the writing process for a song. Between songs, Joy specifically commented on the creation of “Every Side Of You” and how this song broke him out of a period of writer's block.

“I was watching Sopranos, and not really doing too much. Eventually, I was like, ‘Come on man, you gotta write a song’ and this was the first song that came along” said Joy. “ It gave me a bit of encouragement, got me started writing songs, and finally making this album.”

The rest of the concert highlighted Joy’s musical prowess, as he expertly played his acoustic guitar and ukulele throughout the entire concert. When speaking about his song “Way That I’m Going,” Joy explained that he uses these instruments and surprisingly minimalistic chords to create simple but effective music.

“I always get obsessed with chord progressions. This song is four chords and for about three years I kept playing this same series of chords. I tried to write heaps of songs with these chords and none of them worked. Eventually, the right song came along.”

Much like writers find inspiration from their everyday encounters, Joy preserves the seemingly insignificant, finite moments of life with song. Joy specifically commented on the origin of the lyrics for his song, “I’m With You.”

“I was hanging with my friend and in her house, she had this painting — it’s like this abstract art painting that one of her brothers did,” said Joy. “On the painting, there's this line written into it that says ‘this rain changes everything.’ And I guess when I walk around daily, if someone says something cool or if I see something or read something, I just write it into my phone, and then hopefully later it finds its way into a song”

Joy used this short phrase to create an entire story in his song, “I’m With You,” singing, “We fell asleep to escape from the sun / And we woke up to the sound of a storm outside / You looked at me and said "baby, this rain changes everything" / And my heart ran away from me.”

On stage, Joy’s appreciation for music extended far beyond himself — Joy spent time thanking each band member, carefully timing the announcing of each member’s name during the quietest lulls in the crowd to ensure that every audience member could clap for each individual artist. Trumpet player, Kelly O’Donohue, was one of the most memorable band members, complimenting Joy’s songs effortlessly with floating high notes.

There’s a reason why his last name is Joy. The concert was not only a celebration of the songs that we know and love, but a celebration of the process of creating music itself — tediously testing different chords, listening for the perfect lyric, and collaborating with local artists to create a night radiating with inspiration. Fans left reminded to appreciate life a little more and with a sense of gratitude to Vance Joy for making Boston just a bit brighter on that cold winter night.


—Staff writer Sarah M. Rojas can be reached at sarah.rojas@thecrimson.com.

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