He told us he’d had a lyric in his head for months – “Everything is fine/When your head’s resting next to mine” – that he couldn’t fit into a song the way he wanted.
Then the band launched into Fire and the Flood, where those words blend with the horn section to become the hopeful, redeeming chorus against the stalkerish verses, and the alchemy behind Joy’s best tunes was easier to understand.
Most of those best tunes come from the first of Joy’s two albums, 2014’s Dream Your Life Away, if audience reaction on this night was anything to go by.
Granted, we’ve had just six months to live with follow-up Nation of Two. But its only tracks that felt like they’d be in the setlist long-term were We’re Going Home, a rousing melody with Joy’s keening upper range adding to the drama, Lay It on Me’s surging chorus, with horn section again to the fore, and Saturday Sun’s timeless California tale.
That last one’s place in the Vance Joy canon was enshrined on this night by the fact it closed the show and didn’t feel like an anticlimax after the mass singalong of Riptide.
But as listenable as was something such as the new album’s Alone With Me, we didn’t really need it when we had the gorgeous Georgia, the standout ballad from the debut that got this crowd swaying as one.
Vance Joy plays a second and final Sydney show at the Hordern Pavilion on Friday.