Live Review: Vance Joy, Gretta Ray

24 November 2017 | 5:20 pm | Bree Chapman

"The rumble of feet and encore demands call Joy back to the stage with ukulele in hand and we know what's coming up next."

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The queue to enter Forum Theatre stretches around the whole block, wrapping around the building with the end of the line almost meeting up with the beginning of it. After some time of forward-shuffling, we find ourselves at the front entrance. We follow the eager punters in front of us and rush down to the pit. Gretta Ray is settling into her set and she already looks smooth and confident onstage, flawlessly showing off her expert skill and talent. She pumps up the crowd with her folky classics and Unwind particularly gets us singing along and synchronised swaying. But soon Ray shares some of her unreleased music with us. One song is sultry and emotional, starting off low before slowly trickling into a fully fledged ballad. To say goodbye, Ray presents a couple of fan-favourites with her full band behind her and they round out the set with her hit, Drive. As she blows a kiss and bounds off the stage, Ray leaves the giddy fans desperate for more.

A Mr Brightside singalong entertains us in between acts, but just as we're getting into the variety of classics, the house lights dim and we can hear a familiar riff rise up. Vance Joy jogs onto the iconic stage and crashes into Fire And The Flood with ease. The sold out crowd sing the lyrics back to Joy with just as much passion, maybe even more. Joy performs in full-band mode tonight and then some with brass instruments including trumpet, flugelhorn and saxophone. His five-piece band flawlessly fills out Joy's already huge and soulful folk sound. During Red Eye Joy does not hold back. His has always been music that tugs at the heartstrings, but what is even more heart-wrenching is the live experience and being here in the moment singing along to lyrics that have no doubt touched everyone in the room.

Joy shares a brand new track, Take Your Time, from his upcoming album and it's exactly what we would expect from him: an epic, emotional ballad that captivates from the get-go. Call If You Need Me is another new track, for which it's just Joy and his guitar - sans band. Joy falters and has to start this raw and uninhibited track again, which just adds to the intimate honesty of the song. He then eases back into the old favourites with Georgia. But the real highlight is a cover of All Night Long by Lionel Richie that bleeds into Sorry by Justin Bieber without warning. As the crowd roars, Joy grins down at us and starts plucking away at yet another familiar melody. While we're still applauding, Joy reignites punter excitement with Mess Is Mine. The applause settles into lung-busting singalongs as fans try hard to sing louder than each other. With that, Joy waves goodbye.

But we aren't ready yet. The rumble of feet and encore demands call Joy back to the stage with ukulele in hand and we know what's coming up next. The night wouldn't be complete without Riptide and Joy doesn't disappoint. For this song, the intimate singalong Joy coaxes out of us is something incredibly special to be a part of. He then leaves us with Lay It On Me and one more of his trademark Cheshire Cat grins. Unfortunately, that is the end of that. Joy once again pouring out his unparalleled honesty and skill on the stage.

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