Photo by Marie Oleinik

When Joyce took the stage of Gimle on 12. November, there was something special about the fact this Roskilde venue had been home to some of the band’s earliest musical memories. Expectant positivity was palpable in the room from the beginning, and Mørkeblødt contributed in lively fashion, warming up the audience for the prodigal quintet. It is not every day you get to experience a live band on their home turf. You can feel it in the crowd coming together in a way more resembling a family than a group of paying customers: the anticipation is different, the mood is different, and the performance feels more intimate.

Joyce’s joyous energy was evident from the setlist opener “Lev Beskidt”, their new single. It set the mood for the rest of the night, leading into a proper party of a concert comprised mostly of the songs from their acclaimed debut LP “Formskifter”, as well as a couple of unreleased surprises.

Going beyond the generality of rock, it is hard to nail down exactly what makes Joyce special. Influences range from the dynamic shifts and primal energy of the ‘90s grunge to the dual guitar leads of the late ‘70s stadium rock, but the songs are crafted and written with a raw emotionality that grounds them in a contemporary feel. Sebastian Wegener’s spontaneously combustible stage presence and vocal grit make even profanity seem natural and relatable. As an exclamation spoken in crisis, his words are as real as the emotions the music portrays; Never for a moment do you doubt the earnest origin of every line in every song. As the band built a long crescendo toward the culmination of their set, an anthemic ballad “Tiden Har Ødelagt Alt I Mig”, it dawned on me that I was a stranger in the midst of something unique and personal.

Through headphones at home, Joyce come across as moody and atmospheric as they are energetic, but it is on stage that the songs truly come alive. This is the kind of music that fully settles in once a third of the audience has spilled beer on their shoes without a care in the world. It needs the improvisational responsiveness that only a crowd can give, and Joyce effortlessly play off this energy.

This homecoming for the band felt like a special occasion among those in the know — there was a familiarity that Joyce were coming home to. Gimle is a venue with a history, and Joyce have a history with Gimle. This was evident in the joy both on and off stage, and I wouldn’t mind making another trip to Roskilde, should Joyce again grace that old city with their youthful energy.

Check out our gallery from the concert (photos by Marie Oleinik):

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