Australian songwriter Vance Joy’s ascent has been staggering. His first full-length album, Dream Your Life Away, launched him straight to sold-out shows in the Rose City, first at the Roseland, then a spot at 94/7’s December to Remember. After his run opening for Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour in 2015, Joy’s fan base grew exponentially, landing him a sold-out show at the Arlene Schnitzer.
With a brand new album in tow, Vance Joy was one of many names on this year’s stacked Edgefield concert lineup. His show sold out well in advance, the sea of fans spread out on the large lawn a perfect representation of the impact Vance Joy’s music has had on the Portland crowd.
For the fans waiting for the songwriter’s return, the weather proved to be both a blessing and a curse. With summer finally hitting the Pacific Northwest in full force, nary a cloud was in sight as the gates opened to the concert lawn, but the sun beat down with a vengeance. With only a few scattered trees and little shade to begin, the direct 80-plus degree heat was a bit of a challenge to bare. Many attendees opted to stay in the comfortable shade of the food cart area before the show, but hundreds braved the heat and risked the sunburns for great spots in the pit up front.
To begin the evening, Philadelphia's Mondo Cozmo provided an opening set that was equal parts relaxed and energetic. His unique voice stands out in a crowded alternative field, and his relaxed personality perfectly complements the harsh and upbeat tones of his music.
Mondo Cozmo’s set provided the perfect beginning to the evening and a welcome distraction from the heat. And luckily enough, the sun was beginning to set. The conditions for the night seemed to be headed for just the right temperature and the perfect light for a beautiful backdrop. As the Australian songwriter took to the stage, the sun had dropped behind the trees, shade had finally flooded the venue, and a golden glow lit the sky as Joy began his set with the Nation of Two cut “Call If You Need Me.”
It was immediately apparent that Vance Joy is very comfortable with a crowd. He remarked that the sea of people out on the lawn that night was, thus far, the biggest crowd he’d played for in Portland. Before launching into each song, Joy provided a short introduction and anecdote, telling a personal story that somehow contributed to the creation of the song.
In one story, Joy told the crowd the origin of a particular line in the song “I’m With You.” Joy said that he’ll often be stuck with a single line in his head and will write a song around it. The particular line in question Joy found on a painting: “Baby, this rain changes everything.”
His backing band having retreated, leaving just Joy and his guitar, “I’m With You” provided a gorgeous, emotional moment, capturing his skills as a songwriter and lyricist, and leaving the crowd breathless.
As the night went on, Joy provided story after story, song after song, weaving his way through his discography as the sun continued to retreat and the cool Columbia air began to sweep through. With Edgefield’s early curfew, the night wrapped up before darkness began to set. Though the air became crisper as the light of day dimmed, Joy and his band threw a last dash of heat into the evening with a mashed up cover of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” With the whole crowd on their feet, dancing around in the glow of the sunset, Vance Joy led us into the night with beauty and soul.