Music, Featured

17th March 2023

Joesef at O2 Academy Liverpool | Review

Marking his first official album, the Permanent Damage tour by Joesef arrived at the O2 Academy Liverpool on Monday 14th March 2023. The upcoming 27-year-old soul-pop artist from Scotland plays his third performance on his debut album tour.

The Support Act

Etta Marcus coolly commenced the evening just after 8 o’clock, performing a mix between her two EP’s, View from the Bridge and Heart-Shaped Bruise. Marcus’ unique spectrum of the indie-rock genre created a trendy but also blissful atmosphere throughout her performance. Although I was unfamiliar with the artist, her voice was filled with such serenity and comfort, Marcus’ music almost sounded familiar. I was kept engaged for her entire set. Marcus was coy in her presence, but her vocals were strong and in that, her lyrics translated with such emotion and sensitivity.

One song in particular, Hide & Seek, was so moving that the entire crowd engaged in a unanimous, mindless sway, connecting with her and her lyrics – perhaps why it is one of her most popular. Etta Marcus was joined on stage with her band, dressed in casual clothing, her long, brown hair was striking. The acoustics were good and each instrument was audible, including Marcus’ voice. Red and blue lighting complimented the tone and mood of each song aptly. Etta Marcus’ brand and her music greatly complimented the main act, Joesef, as both pursue similar trends in the pop genre. I was left greatly impressed by her and her voice.

The Main Act

Joesef awkwardly strolled onto the stage, welcomed by loud clapping and cheering from the excited audience. Dressed in a chic striped shirt and vintage-style trousers, accessorised with large silver rings, Joesef was cool-looking. His demeanour throughout the performance grew in confidence and song by song, the singer eased into the set. Joesef’s banter and witty personality pervaded in little anecdotes between songs, often received with laughter and smiling looks between audience members, as if to say ‘he’s hilarious’. Each song became more personal over the course of the night, connecting him to his audience even more. 

Opening the evening with the song, It’s Been a Little Heavy Lately, immediately such vibrant and upbeat emotions flowed through the venue. Listening to the lyrics, the song deals with such raw, conflicting emotions in relation to love and relationships. But, it’s drastically and ironically contrasted in an uplifting, positive-sounding tune, which, for me, was bittersweet. 

Despite not being wholly familiar with Joesef, through artist Loyle Carner, I realised I knew his single Don’t Know Why. I became entirely giddy when I heard the song beginning to play – which was the second song of the evening. Hearing it live, gave such a sense of musical nostalgia, the acoustics of each instrument and Joesef’s voice were so familiar and heart-warming. The evening’s set was mostly songs from his debut album Permanent Damage, with a handful of singles and even a cover – which was popular among his audience as it was received with elated screaming.

Overall Thoughts

My favourite song of the evening came after Joesef teasingly (and unconvincingly) stated that the cover was to be his last song, but after the audience’s chants of “one more song”, he came back onto the stage to perform Joe. The song ended the night on such a high, everyone dancing and grinning, even I joined in on the singing of the chorus – it was quite easy to catch on with “Joe” being repeated several times. 

Overall, Joesef, his soul-pop music and performance were fantastic and strikingly original. I found myself gushing with emotion in the feelings each song created. His genre of music is one that I typically indulge in, however, his uniqueness felt beautifully different to usual soul-pop compositions. His show was one I thoroughly enjoyed and despite not knowing him and his music previously, I felt so included and would absolutely love to experience one of his shows again.

Image credit: Nathan Dunphy, used with permission from Renegade

Audience and Venue

Cutting through Lime Street Station, finding the O2 Academy was easy but the heavy rain made it a bit trickier to work out the box office from the entrance, all while trying not to get too soaked. I had never attended an event at Liverpool’s O2 Academy previously and was surprised at how intimate the size of the venue was. I became quite excited at being able to watch Joesef so close up, especially since the stage was also on the smaller side. The intimacy of the venue unified Joesef and his audience even more, singing to each song alongside him, joining in his sweet little dance moves and overall engaging in this collective experience. It was particularly thrilling when Joesef moved to the edge of the stage at the very end, it felt as though he was actually in the audience.

Upon arrival, the venue was mainly empty, aside from those who wanted to hold down front-row barrier territory. It was only during the supporting act, Etta Marcus’ set, that the O2 started filling up. The stage was at an appropriate height, which meant that even those at the very back could see Joesef quite clearly. 

Joesef’s audience members were warm and welcoming. Becoming friendly with two sisters in their mid 20’s, one told me that his music was getting her through her breakup and her sister had bought them both tickets. Watching them throughout Joesef’s set was actually quite moving, both arm-in-arm, singing the lyrics to one another and getting lost in his music in those moments. For me, that translated to what effect his music has on his listeners, being able to relate to them about ordinary hardships, like breakups, that most people experience. 

Acoustics and Lighting

Joesef’s album cover for Permanent Damage is a combination of white, orange and pink hues, which comprised the combinations of the lights throughout the duration of the concert. Although they were simple, they complimented Joesef’s aesthetic, both musically and stylistically. The lights did not distract from or hinder his performance, as they weren’t too harsh or overbearing. 

Acoustics-wise, the sound was perfectly balanced, not too loud and not too quiet, enough to demonstrate the full effect his music can have when being performed live. Each instrument was audible, giving recognition to each of Joesef’s talented band members also. Joesef was accompanied by a support vocalist on guitar, who added another soothing voice to his music.

A Final Note

At the time of writing this, Joesef is still on his Permanent Damage tour and you can access the dates on his website here:

Find Joesef on Spotify here:

Cover image by Nathan Dunphy, used with permission from Renegade