Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
here's a lot to like about Joy Oladukon. The singer, who delves into folk, pop and rock, is an engaging personality with a lot to say both in her songs and stage banter. And even more importantly, she has a lot of good songs that worked well in concert.
That was the case from the opening mid-tempo of "Keeping the Light On" to the more upbeat vibey closing singalong song of the regular set, "We're All Gonna Die."
Oladukon wasn't afraid to mix it up on more than one occasion. She offered a brand new song, "Black Cars" based on waiting for an Uber, segueing into – yup, you guessed it – "Fast Car," a cover of the Tracy Chapman song. The latter proved more satisfying than the former, which was a bit on the subdued side for Oladukon.
Her choice of covers was never better than her left-of-center take on Elton John's "Rocket Man." She slowed it down a lot with guitar atmospherics from Colin Wells, who augmented a number of songs throughout the 75-minute show. Oladukon's reading placed the emphasis on the words (it's not exactly easy to understand Elton when he sings!) and her vocals.
She also scored with going from her own "Somehow" into "The Middle," the Jimmy Eat World hit.
And she obviously has a sense of humor. For the encore, after going from her "Jordan" to a segment of The Temptations' hit "My Girl," she went to her own "Sweet Symphony."
What song does she end the night with? Of course, that would be a song she said was about "positivity," the bright sounding "look up" to segue into The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," which is about change or maybe not. It wasn't a particularly long show, but Oladukon put it together very well
Oladokun holds a strong appeal for women, and it was easy to see why this crowd of about 1,300 was overwhelmingly so. She writes and sings about issues of concern to women and is a proud Queer woman, who's not afraid to talk about it.
She also spoke in support of the marginalized, weaving in a funny story about growing up as a teen in Arizona. She had a gay friend, Patrick, who would jokingly confront her and ask if she were a lesbian yet. She lost touch with him, having moved to Los Angeles. That is until one day when she was in a store and out of the blue, a voice asks her, "Are you a lesbian yet?" They renewed their relationship, but Patrick died two years ago. What was a funny story turned sad when it became clear from Oladukon that he apparently died at his own hands in a difficult world to gain acceptance.
The import from the songs and stories may have been sweet and bittersweet, but in the hands of Oladukon, she makes it go down just a bit easier.