Mt. Joy, Bush Hall, London, 25th June 2019

It was a sweaty night outside and in as London enjoyed raised temperatures and the threat of rain. The ever elegant Bush hall was a good way towards full for Mt. Joy, making a stopover appearance in London before heading to the Lollapalooza festival in Sweden. Mt. Joy are label mates with both the Felice Brothers and The Lumineers, and that’s fully appropriate as their music fits neatly into that American-Indie-Folk sub-division of Americana. But what can you do when you’re an internet sensation – less than a handful of songs attracting millions of listens before you, as a band, even have an album out and then when the album emerges it’s a big hit and straight away you’re a headlining band ? Well, if you’re Mt.Joy then you just take it in your stride. Welcomed to the stage with a great cheer – Matt Quinn’s suggestion that we should all “have some fun” – was not going to be met with any disapproval.

Mt. Joy launched the night with the first song from their eponymous album, ‘I’m your Wreck‘, a great combination of Quinn’s high and sweet vocals, lyrics which call to mind ‘Bright Eyes‘, and an opportunity for the whole band to show off their chops from the very start as it flits through false crescendos and time-shifts. By the time they’d reached the swaying crowd-pleaser that is ‘Astrovan‘ – their initial breakout song which mixes dreams of the future with being stuck in the past – it was looking as if the set would be just be a run through of the album – until Quinn announced that they’d been in the studio and had some new songs they’d like to share. As is often the case with new songs, particularly quiet new songs, there was a definite drifting of the audience’s attention, before it was as rudely wrested back by a rather sweet and raucous guitar break, which heralded a shift of gear into The Flaming Lips’ ‘Do You Realise?‘ It was a jam band trick that was repeated later as the soulful ‘Sheep‘ slipped seamlessly into ‘Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone‘ before finally emerging as another Mt. Joy tune, the perhaps unhappily blissed out ‘Julia‘ with its imagery of “stumbling down Elysian Fields, the Spanish moss and that Southern feel / Silver moonlight in the trees / And the devil’s in my bloodstream”.  Jackie Miclau showing off her piano skills in this with short breaks of a percussive jazziness was another highlight moment.

Choosing to meet the crowd demands for “one more song” with a full three as the encore, and kicking this off with Matt Quinn solo on acoustic guitar and another “song we’ve never done live” is yet another facet of Mt. Joy’s versatility – solid indie-folk, acoustic balladeers, fine harmonising of vocals and accomplished jam band – it’s an appealing mix that’s just crying out for a full UK tour.

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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