‘This was Joe’s opportunity to make an impression, and wow did he make one!’
Intro to BBC Introducing Essex:
Having recently reviewed Joe’s debut EP, to say I was excited about seeing him perform live would be an understatement. Hosted by Ollie from BBC Introducing Essex, the showcase which took place at the Harlow Playhouse, 7th November, was a night of music unlike any I have experienced before. The first half provided an introduction the music of Cameron Sanderson, while the second was the perfect opportunity to hear Joe perform the EP tracks alongside other originals. However, what I didn’t realise until I spoke to him before his set, was that it would take on a much more rock influenced edge. So would it be just as successful?
Opening his set, Joe performed three tracks from ‘The EP’ (One Dance, Saturday and Love Sick). As you will remember from my review of these, I was a massive fan of the funk infused sounds within them. Would this different, ‘more rocky’ style have the same impact or would it lose the essence of what I enjoyed about them?
To stop you guessing, the impact was even higher than before and through clever re-arrangement of track’s key features, Joe along with his drummer Alex and his bassist Federico, kept the essence of what made the tracks so great in the first place. Apart from the change in sound, the other noticeable aspect within these opening tracks was Joe’s energy. Even if you hadn’t seen – or indeed heard his music before the night – you could tell that this was his opportunity to make an impression. And wow did he make one!
Completely enthralled by the performance, I quickly found myself slipping into the role of audience member rather reviewer. Full of relentless energy, Joe leapt around the stage like a professional front man and with facial expressions a plenty, you couldn’t fail to enjoy the experience. Within seconds it was clear that that he was enjoying his own performance just as much as the audience were enjoying listening.
Reducing the tempo of the set, Joe moved on to performing ‘Six String Woman,’ which, having interviewed Joe after the gig, turned out to be one of two featured tracks written with his previous band, The Broken Chords. For me, this was not only fantastic to hear some of his earlier tracks, but also a chance to hear just how well the older sound fitted with the newer one.
The track itself had much more of a laid back nature than the full on opening tracks, but – as you will read my forthcoming track review – it had just as much impact. Following this, Joe returned to ‘The EP’ with a performance of the final track ‘Trust in U.’ Here, like the earlier ones, even though the track took on a more rocky nature than the original funk infused version, you couldn’t help but become totally engaged in the performance.
Moving to the final three tracks of the set, Joe took us on a musical tour where he demonstrated his inspiration and how it influences him. The first of these, which was a cover version of Prince’s ‘1999,’ showed just how great Joe’s musicality is. Taking on any iconic song – let alone one by an iconic artist – can certainly be a risk. Either you do it justice, or you don’t do it at all. No prizes for guessing the bracket that Joe’s performance fell in to. Filled with musicality and vocal inflections reminiscent of Prince himself, it was far from out of place in a set full of originals.
Continuing this masterclass in showmanship, Joe’s penultimate track ‘Marion’ showed how his inspiration has directly influenced his latest tracks. While not currently released, all Joe’s musical hallmarks – such as insane guitar riffs, driving rhythms and passionate vocals – were present, making it on track to be a surefire hit if released as a single. Making a final return to his releases with The Broken Chords, Joe finished his set with the dance-inducing ‘Love on Heat.’ Crammed full of driving rhythms and incredible improvisation, you could help but feel that while the gig was ending, Joe’s musical journey was only just beginning.