Review and photos by Gareth John

Foy Vance: Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Monday 11 December 2023

I first saw Foy Vance live at Fibbers, York mid-2007 as he promoted debut album Hope and I have tracked his work and progress ever since.

Following early years as a struggling troubadour, Foy was eventually signed to Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records and is now regarded as the ‘songwriters' songwriter’ and ‘music’s best-kept secret’.

As context and connection, an unknown 16-year-old school boy named Ed Sheeran also saw Foy live in 2007 and became an obsessive fan from that point.

Admired by the likes of Elton John, Keith Urban and Sheeran, all of whom have worked with him and performed on his anniversary edition of Guiding Light, Foy has also collaborated with the likes of Alicia Keys, Robbie Williams and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and has co-written multiple tracks including Sheeran’s Galway Girl and the Emmy nominated Ted Lasso song A Beautiful Game.

York Press: Foy Vance by Gareth JohnFoy Vance by Gareth John

This month sees Foy on the UK stretch of his Regarding the Joy of Nothing Tour, a tour which celebrates the 10-year anniversary of second album Joy of Nothing and which continues with further American and European dates in early 2024.

Foy's gig at the Brudenell Social Club, a venue he describes as a firm favourite, was a sell out.

After support from the wonderful Bonnie Bishop, Foy appeared on stage to a rapturous applause and wearing a Signs of Life t-shirt, a point he later described as shameless self-promotion of his 2021 album.

Seated at the piano and with eyes tightly closed, Foy opened with the stunning Closed Hand, Full of Friends and seamlessly transitions into the wonderful Sapling. Still on piano, Foy continued with Bangor Town from his 2016 Wild Swan album, telling a story of Jerry and Julie as two of Bangor’s ‘characters’ whose thirst for knowledge and art was outweighed by their thirst for vodka. Foy weaved his moving, funny and engaging storytelling throughout the set, continuing his setlist with title track Joy of Nothing, his poetic reflections singing of Ulysees and eulogies before performing the powerful Janey.

Continuing with songs from Joy of Nothing, Foy’s passionate At Least My Heart Was Open was followed by an explanation of the birth of the album which followed seven long hard years after his debut before the realisation that “nothin’ is worth writing about” and that “enjoying the everything of nothing and the nothing of everything”.

This became the theme for the album. The whole performance was stunning, the audience captivated and engaged throughout as they sang in unison to Foy’s cover of the iconic Nothing Compares 2 U as a heartfelt tribute to the late Sinead O’Connor.

The catchy Coco, named after Foy’s friend Courtney Cox’s daughter, has the audience swaying while the punchy Upbeat Feelgood invites a choral response.

As Foy entered the latter part of his set, he sang fan favourites Casanova, You and I and Guiding Light before leaving the stage with the audience still in full voice.

He returned with Bonnie Bishop to sing Fairytale of New York, a stunning tribute to the late Shane MacGowan. This was a truly memorable performance from Foy Vance which saw an evening of combined joy, laughter, storytelling, tribute, and remarkable song.