It’s pretty astonishing to think Joy Crookes has only really been around since 2019. Her performance at a sold out Trinity Centre in Bristol this evening (November 7) has all the hallmarks of a certified idol embarking on her umpteenth tour.
The sheer volume of the whoops and cheers as she takes to the stage adds to the feeling that we’re watching a household name rather than a relative newcomer, and some members of the audience are virtually beside themselves as the 23-year-old kicks off her set with I Don’t Mind – the opening track from her critically acclaimed debut album, Skin.
As if she didn’t already have her adoring fans in the palm of her hand, she then declares that “Bristol is my favourite city to play in, I f***ing love it here” which is unsurprisingly met with a cheer almost as loud as the one that accompanied her entrance to the stage. A platitude reeled out at every show on this UK tour, perhaps? Or maybe not, as it certainly felt genuine.
The main reason Joy Crookes has been tipped for very big things ever since emerging back in 2019 – and the reason she has already built up such a dedicated fan base – is her sensational vocals, which naturally sound even more impressive live than they do on record. She took to the stage with You Go To My Head by Billie Holiday playing in the background, and her soulful honey-coated voice is reminiscent of those possessed by the revered jazz singer, as well as other greats like Nina Simone and, of course, Amy Winehouse.
While her four-strong backing band are all evidently very accomplished musicians, the standout moments of the set come when the instruments are stripped back, allowing Joy’s voice to really take centre stage. Examples include Poison, arguably one of the recent album’s best tracks, and Don’t Let Me Down, one of those songs so beautiful it makes you feel like you’re melting.
“It feels like I’m playing to a room full of my mates; you have no idea how overwhelming it is for me to be doing this,” beams Joy as she takes in the applause towards the end of the set, and her appreciation feels totally genuine. She is clearly loving every minute just as much as those in front of her and as a performer she is as likable as her songs are catchy.
Equally as sincere is the devastation from the crowd when the singer, who is from a Bangladeshi mother and Irish father, announces that she’s about to play her last song – which turns out to be Feet Don’t Fail Me Now – but there’s time for a very deserved and encouraged encore which includes the sublime When You Were Mine, capping off a completely accomplished, eclectic performance from a star who will without doubt become a household name in the not-too-distant future – not just in the UK.
Talents like Joy Crookes don’t come around very often, so make sure you catch her live at the next opportunity, which will likely be high up the bill at a festival next summer or a venue with a much larger capacity than Trinity Centre.
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