Live Review: Joesef at SWG3

By Ryan Harley

Photography by Matthew Boyle


Joesef has become a real cultural force in Glasgow over the past few months – emerging from the musical ether seemingly fully formed and ready for the big time.

Selling out the city’s famed King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut without releasing any music and recently making on to the BBC’s Sound of 2020 poll, Joesef’s stock seems to be rising exponentially – making tickets for his sold-out show in SWG3’s Galvinisers worth more than their weight in gold.

The show began with the Galvanisers plunged into darkness as both Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ and Robyn’s ‘Between the Lines’ played out in full – setting the tone from the outset.

This upbeat tempo continued as the band took to the stage, launching straight into ‘Loverboy’ – the centrepiece of Joesef’s latest release ‘Play Me Something Nice’ – complete with a barrage of confetti, and a rapturous response from the onlooking audience. 

The more delicate, nuanced, stylistic elements of ‘Play Me Something Nice’ had the potential to be lost in a live-show scenario – but Joesef’s tremendous backing band let nothing fall through the cracks.

Songs like ‘Don’t Give In’ and ‘Kerosene’, whose recorded versions are emotionally effective in their own right, hit much harder when performed by Joesef and his small but brilliant lineup of backing musicians.

Of course, being a gig the day before Christmas Eve there was no way of escaping the elephant in the room – and the band gave the baying masses of pink-Santa-hat-wearing fans exactly what they wanted.

Joesef’s silky smooth interpretation of the Eartha Kitt classic ‘Santa Baby’ was nothing short of sublime – fitting in with the rest of the set well, and providing the festive singalong that the audience was so desperate for.

Other artists that have emerged onto the wider music scene from Scotland in recent years seem to have had their careers predicated on the levels of bullish attitude or viral-memeability that they harbour – but this doesn’t seem to be the case with Joesef.

There doesn’t seem to be any artifice around what Joesef does, only genuine talent and unbridled enthusiasm for what he is doing, which comes across in his live stage in bucketloads.

As the final pieces of confetti fell, while the crowd sang the rousing chorus of closing track ‘Limbo’, it was hard not to get caught up in the magic of the whole thing.

There was a very palpable feeling amongst the crowd that they were privileged to see this artist at this early point in his career before he hits the heights that he inevitably will.

Joesef’s set at Galvanisers this week proved that the hype around him is more than justified – and we should expect great things from him in the new year.