When you get IDed on entry to a gig and then continue to be told that whilst you may buy drinks, you may not buy them for others, you begin to question what’s going on. Only when I entered the main venue did I realised just why: the majority of the crowd were fifteen year old girls.
Joe Brooks was an artist I knew little about before the gig. I’d wanted to attend as I’ve been a big fan of Jason Reeves, his second support act of the night, for many years. An American singer-songwriter, he’s worked closely with Colbie Caillat for some time and his album ‘The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache and Other Frightening Tales’ is definitely vying for a position in my all-time top ten albums list. His set was short-lived with just five songs, but it was powerful whilst it lasted. The overexcited crowd had exuded hormones throughout opener Mike Dignam’s set but the more mellow tones of Reeves seemed to dull their screams for a while.
Reeves commented on how delighted he was to see the packed venue even though he knew people weren’t there to see him. Inside I wanted to be like the fifteen year olds, screaming out “I love you Jason”, but my far more mature eighteen year-old self thought better of it.
When Brooks made it onto the stage at half seven (this all-ages gig had a 9pm curfew!) the whistling and cheering was near deafening. His set was double the length of the previous acts and the delight in the crowd was evident. Having spent the majority of the year in LA touring with Reeves, Brooks spoke of his new found appreciation of LA women. At this point I thought I heard a hundred hearts shatter, before he continued to declare that his love of British girls was stronger.
At just eighteen, Brooks has crafted himself an impressive fan base. Kaleidoscope had everyone singing along whilst Hello Mr Sun was aptly included in the set list to add warmth to the cold wintery evening. A cover of Toploader’s Dancing in the Moonlight was a surprise hit with the young crowd and when Brooks departed the stage, he was cheered until he returned with a cape on for his biggest track to date Superman.
Brooks is a talented young guy and has achieved what many artists much older than him are still waiting for. In some ways you can’t help but respect him as a great vocalist and marketing machine, but part of me feels that it may have all gone to his head. Crowd banter was cringey at best with his suggestive behaviour perhaps needing adjusting to the audience’s average age. He’s certainly one to watch, but for me Reeves was definitely the superior performer.