There’s a long line outside the brick-layered Komplex 257 in Zurich as we approach the venue.
But it’s worth the wait because the concerts that await inside are pretty memorable ones.
Scott Helman, a 23-year-old Canadian singer opens the gig accompanied by a bassist and a drummer. Very charismatic on stage, he owns the audience from the start! His voice, looks as well as his music vaguely recall Justin Bieber. He plays a lot of songs about breakups and getting better after them. He divides the audience into two and makes both parts sing vocalises, echoing each other.
Scott Helman’s music is patterned by electronic drums and riffs, for some of the songs he plays the ukulele instead of the guitar. He also plays. A beautiful cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, although the voice is not quite the same. A great opening act who certainly set the audience on fire!
Australian singer and songwriter Vance Joy, whose real name is James Keogh, plays in Zurich for the very first time, and he doesn’t hide his excitement throughout the gig. When the light dim around 9pm, Vance Joy steps out from the backstage embracing his guitar and goes to the front of the stage, where he starts playing “Call If You Need Me”, a song taken from his new album Nation of Two.
He is then joined on stage by his 5 band-members who stand in a sort of orchestra half circle at the very back of the stage. They then play a lively older song “Mess is mine”, taken from his first album Dream Your Life Away (2014), with the melodic sax and trumpet in the background.
Rather static on stage in his way of playing, Vance Joy is nonetheless very charismatic, engaging the audience from the very beginning and constantly smiling to them.
Throughout the show Vance Joy plays a great mix of newer and older songs, to make all of the fans (mostly females) who came to this sold-out show, happy. He introduces some of the songs recounting anecdotes or their meaning, which is often related to a negative experience but turned into a song in which you see the positive side of things.
It’s then time for some singalong anthem with “Fire and the Flood”, where the sound of the sax and drums become increasingly more present. Vance Joy sings his lungs out, smiles and thanks the audience for the singing along.
He recounts a funny anecdote about the very first songs he ever wrote. He had invited a friend over to his place to make him listen to them and after he performed his friend’s opinion was “it’s nice that you can play the guitar and sing at the same time”. His songs, as he himself admits, have since improved, getting better with time. And although we haven’t heard those early songs in his bedroom, we totally agree and so does the audience.
It gets all a bit melancholic with the sweet notes of “Georgia”, to which the public sings along. Then on with two songs taken from the last album “One of these days” and “We’re going home”. Vance Joy then announces that he is going to play a song that will make the audience dance. He plays a cover of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long”, which he blends with Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” in the middle, and indeed the Komplex 457 transforms itself on a dance floor!
Thanks to his ukulele, he takes the audience directly into sunny Melbourne with the cheerful sounds of “Saturday Sun”, with its funky vibes which make it impossible to stay still. A happy and rather simple song but full of positive vibes.
His new single “Lay it on me”, with its colourful sounds, gets acclaimed by the audience. To end on a high note, “Riptide”, the song who made him well-known to the public, could not be missing. The audience screaming and singing along as Vance Joy leads the path with his ukulele as his band renders everything funkier.
There is no encore but there was not a minute of break during the concert so quite an impressive performance! Vance Joy, leaves the stage with a bright smile and blowing kisses in the air.