by Gemma Murphy
“Crooksey! Crooksey! Crooksey!” The crowd chanted in anticipation as they waited for South London singer Joy Crookes to enter the Saint Lukes stage. As she entered stage left the chants turned to cheers, the stomping of feet began whilst a Scottish flag was being flown from the top balcony. A proper Scottish welcome. “Is that it?” Joy said baiting the Glasgow crowd who accepted the challenge by breaking out into a roar that could only be stopped by the 23-year-old beginning to sing, opening with ‘Wild Jasmine’.
The funky drums got the crowd dancing as the catchy chorus was sang back to her. By the grin on her face you can tell she truly loves what she does, it’s no wonder she’s so damn good at it. Her soulful voice somehow being even better live, she captivated the audience immediately.
Her debut album Skin – which she thanked the crowd for making a top 5 album – is a no skip album with each song being as mesmerising as the last, and her performance was the same. “That’s my favourite so far” was something I found myself saying after every song. It is rare that a voice leaves you in awe, but this is what Joy Crookes’ does. So much so that someone even threw flowers onto the stage to show their appreciation for the young artist, to which she jokingly replied, “Are you trying to give me hay fever?”
But it was the crowd she had nearly in tears with her stripped back performances. Sat under fairy lights, playing the piano she sang ‘Theek Ache’ her voice melting over the crowd like butter and her vocal range taking centre stage. Her talent is undeniable, and I was thankful that I got to see her in a gig this intimate.
Her songs are stories, poetic at times, about her identity – her father being from Ireland and her mother Bangladesh – so, by the end of the gig it felt as if the audience knew who Joy Crookes is as a person. Alongside her humour you felt as if you were really getting to know the singer.
So obviously, the crowd was devastated when she told the crowd she was on her last song, however, there’s always time for an encore. After singing ‘Two Nights’, a song not on her debut album but a crowd favour judging by their reaction, she re-entered and laughed as she noted how fun the crowd were for a Monday night and wondered what we would be like on a Saturday. But she’ll just have to come back to find out.
Her final song opens with a recording of a voicemail from her uncle and the crowd immediately knows it is ‘When You Were Mine’ a song written about finding out her ex-boyfriend is gay. The jazzy opening of sax and trumpet, the rhythmic drums alongside Crookes’ effortlessly smooth voice makes for a great finisher to an incredible set.
Joy Crookes is a rare talent, her music is moving, powerful and deals with real issues and she has deservingly found herself compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Nina Simone. She has all the boxes ticked to be a household name and I don’t doubt for a second that the next time she is in Glasgow she’ll be around the corner at the Barrowlands where more people can have their ears blessed by her honey coated vocals.