Vance Joy’s Red Rocks set is down to Earth and going places

Ashley Potts

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  • Vance Joy performs at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy performs at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy performs at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy performs at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy puts his hands in the air while thanking the crowd at his Red Rocks show on May 30 The show was part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy smiles while performing at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy puts his hands in the air while thanking the crowd at his Red Rocks show on May 30 The show was part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy performs at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy performs at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

  • Vance Joy enters the stage to start his show at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

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When someone says Vance Joy, you probably only think of the popular song, “Riptide.”

And while that song was certainly his big break—reaching No. 1 on Billboard charts and earning him a spot opening for Taylor Swift’s 1989 world tour—it was only the beginning. Joy is currently halfway through the US portion of another world tour, this time as the headliner. He is playing his second album, Nation of Two, to crowds in many of the same places he opened for Swift a few years ago.

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Last night his tour stopped at a venue that most artists consider to be one of the most important lines on their resume: Red Rocks Amphitheater. It proved to be the perfect place to listen to Joy’s pop, folky indie tunes. The show was equal parts sit back and relax and get up and dance. 

Singer and songwriter Alice Merton opened things up with a set including her own big hit, “No Roots.” Her set was a bit more moody, including songs about sticking it to the man by starting her own record label when no one would sign her and about not holding a grudge. 

After Merton’s set, Joy took the stage in jeans and a black t-shirt, adding to the laid-back vibe he and his songs exude. He seemed less like a headlining star and more like the guy in your freshman dorm room who always pulled out his guitar, except, you know, is actually good. 

His set flowed through new songs like “Saturday Sun” and old favorites like “Mess is Mine”, swaying ballads and songs that had the crowd dancing with their hands in the air. Joy sang every song with an ear-to-ear grin, making it impossible to not smile while singing along. 

Vance Joy smiles while performing at Red Rocks on May 30 as part of his Nation of Two headlining tour. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

It was easy to see that he was excited, but if you didn’t catch on just by watching him, he made sure to express his gratitude after every song. This tour and this venue were new and special to him and that freshness is refreshing to watch. 

Vance Joy is on an upswing. His vibe is contagious and his lyrics are heartfelt. While his album may not be your go-to for a night out dancing, maybe it should be.

Collegian reporter Ashley Potts can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @ashleypotts09.