- Live Review
- 13 Mar 23
The 27-year-old Scottish singer commanded a hungry crowd with his authentic delivery and mesmerising vocal ability.
Following the release of his acclaimed debut album Permanent Damage in January, Scottish soul star Joesef brought his signature vulnerability and wit to Opium Dublin on Saturday night with a commanding stage presence and crowd-captivating set. But beyond his immaculate vocals, the beloved artist provided a masterclass on how to turn traumatic memories and emotions into anthems of empowerment and hope.
The Glasgow native has already made quite a name for himself, having performed a sold-out show at the esteemed King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in 2019 before releasing his first EP, Play Me Something Nice, later that year. Celebrated as an openly queer musician, Joesef has been lauded for promoting queer love and intimacy in his songs and music videos, while inspiring dedicated fans to go through the world as their authentic selves. The artist was also nominated for the BBC Sound of 2020 and has earned praise from the likes of recent Hot Press cover star Sam Smith and Mark Ronson, the DJ behind the global smash hit Uptown Funk.
In 2020 the Scottish singer released his critically acclaimed second EP, Does It Make You Feel Good?, along with a cover of the Sister Sledge hit ‘I’m Thinking Of You’, which garnered over 30 million global streams. Following this success, Joesef’s debut LP Permanent Damage embodies the anxiety and heartache that grows out of confrontation with a new-self.
Irish fans were elated to see the Scottish artist perform, as swathes of people trickled into Opium Dublin early on Saturday night, braving rainy weather to attend the sold-out show. As guests began lining the bar to order a drink, fellow Scottish musician Theo Bleak warmed up the crowd.
Bleak, who released her debut EP Fragments in May 2022, captivated fans with her angelically soft voice and ethereal style, while also showing off her electric guitar prowess. Accompanied by a thunderous drummer and smooth bassist, the Scottish musician played a set of crowd-pleasing originals that got the ever-growing crowd on their feet.
“I’d live here if I could,” she told the audience. “I love Joesef and his crew. They’ve taken us on so many shows and it’s been amazing. We never would've been to Ireland or half the places we’ve been to without him.”
Performing her single ‘Autumn Song’, Bleak showcased heartfelt lyrics about her relationship with nature that possessed an addictively catchy beat. To end her set, the Scottish singer performed an upcoming single about letting go and living freely, which was certainly a fitting transition into the night’s main act.
What started as a small group of people quickly became a sea of fans flooding into the venue, lining both the stage and balcony levels of Opium Dublin. Despite the wait for the stage crew to set up for the second act, the crowd only became more energised, singing along to the backdrop of The Cranberries’ ‘Linger’, Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’, Lizzo’s ‘About Damn Time’ and other hits to pass the time.
A burst of fog covered the stage which soon became bathed in bright red lights. Moments later a second whiff of fog appeared and the night’s five-piece band emerged onto the stage to loud cheers. Fittingly opening the show with his album’s namesake introductory track ‘Permanent Damage’, Joesef sang the first verse out of sight before walking on stage and receiving a hero’s welcome from the Opium Dublin crowd.
Instantly serenading the audience with his angelic falsetto, the artist claimed the stage by throwing his hands in the air like wings, which never failed to garner passionate cheers from the hungry crowd. He then played his fan favourite ‘It’s Been A Little Heavy Lately’, which, in line with the 27-year-old's signature style, turned traumatic memories and vulnerable lyrics into an upbeat party anthem, with fans singing the words to the new track as the band stepped to the beat. The Scottish artist could do nothing wrong, as every dance move earned a loud cheer from the loving crowd.
The openly queer artist put his heart and soul into every word he sang, not being afraid to authentically express vulnerability while easily making a real connection with fans of all sexualities and backgrounds.
Donning a black t-shirt with the word “DISCO” written in bright white letters, the artist’s casual appearance matched the freeing atmosphere of the room on this vibrant Saturday night.
“C’mon, Dublin!” Joesef shouted with a warm smile before leading the crowd in a round of hand waves to finish the heartfelt banger. Once the song was over, the star raised the drink he had brought with him and made a toast with the sea of fans, many of whom also had drinks in hand. The singer then kept the crowd jamming with his single ‘Wonder Why’, showcasing his mesmerising vocal ability that fuels his dream pop sound and lively delivery.
“This is one of my favourite places to come,” Joesef told the crowd before performing his single ‘East End Coast’, which is ironically a tribute to his hometown. He ended the performance by blowing a kiss to the audience to show his gratitude for their love and support.
The Glasgow singer then performed his ballad ‘Just Come Home With Me Tonight’, which he said is about an ex-boyfriend. “I asked him to come home with me and he said no,” the artist said to vocal shock from the crowd. The song and performance captured the relatable feelings of love and longing for someone who stole your heart. The audience resonated with the words so strongly that the singer even pointed the mic at the crowd to take over at certain points.
Before playing his next tear-jerker, a fan let Joesef know that the day’s BeReal notification had gone off, prompting the artist to use their phone to take a photo of the energised crowd for the app.
“I think sometimes the hardest thing in a relationship is when it’s the right person but the wrong time,” Joesef said before performing his next ballad ‘Borderline’, serving an emotional performance with intensely relatable lyrics:
'Cause you were so hard to find
I want you all the time
Remember what you loved me for?
Even when I'm on the floor?
Hope is hard to find
In-between the things I've said
A version of me in your head
But I could never tow the borderline
The honest performance earned a thunderous applause from the crowd, with many fans wiping tears from their faces.
“Let’s fucking take this up a bit, alright,” Joesef said, shifting the mood to a more upbeat, empowering tone with his song ‘Think I Don’t Need Your Love’.
Another moment when Joesef showed his mastery at turning traumatic events into healing bangers was later in the night when he performed his 2020 ballad ‘Sun Is Up Forever’, which he said is dedicated to his mother.
“We had a really terrible time as a kid. My dad was a very abusive man,” he shared with the crowd. But after 20 years, his mom has learned to leave negative memories in the past and realised that “the sun is up forever”, something the artist actively tries to remind himself of too.
Upon leaving the stage after what appeared to be the artist’s final song, the hungry crowd chanted: “One more tune!” After several minutes, the beloved artist made his way back to the stage for an encore to thunderous applause, re-opening with his ballad ‘Loverboy’ while playing his electric guitar.
The Scottish star ended the show with his new critically acclaimed single ‘Joe’, which explores the negative relationship the singer often has with himself. Despite the song’s serious topic, Joesef closed his show by descending from the stage into the audience to jump with fans who were chanting the lyrics. Ending back on stage, the singer received a well-deserved applause from everyone at Opium before giving the audience a final farewell kiss.
Listen to Permanent Damage below.
- Live Review
- 29 May 23
- Live Review
- 25 May 23
- Live Review
- 22 May 23
- Live Review
- 10 May 23