Joel Baker at Reading Festival

August 27, 2013

Young man walking out onto the Introducing stage with an acoustic guitar and a slight scowl, after we are told he’s from Nottingham and has a big following on YouTube. At very first impression we’re expecting something akin to a similar upcoming artist with the initials JB. (That’s Jake Bugg, not Bieber. Bieber’s not from Nottingham anyway, he’s a Stoke lad)

But we’re wrong. A delicate guitar acts as a velvet bed for a devilishly soft yet soulful voice. With jeans, a white shirt, and a passionately contorted face singing with sincere depth his manner is mildly reminiscent of a young Springsteen. He just needs a leather jacket. He’s also joined by his producer Joe on drum pads.

A mid-set highlight is his cover of Kanye West’s ‘Can’t Tell You Me Nothing’, which he proudly adds features his own white boy-ness. It’s a passionate number delivered through gritted teeth and rakishly slashed acoustic strums. ‘Kiss in the Rain’ gets a decent sized gang clapping for him and makes us think of The Notebook *swoons*. Meanwhile, set closer ‘Every Vessel, Every Vein’ manages to fit in an impressive boys vs girls singalong that is sustained for about two minutes. There’s promise here.

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