In the church of Xavier Rudd, the faithful appear to hear the messages of hope, inclusiveness, love and peace. While any other performer may come across as sanctimonious, Xavier Rudd’s quiet protests against injustice draw massive fans worldwide because his message comes from the heart, and always leaves the crowd uplifted.
Last night the congregation was a sold out crowd at NightQuarter for the Gold Coast leg of his Stormboy tour. Rudd was supported by his brother, Maximillion with a laid back bluesy, acoustic guitar performance. Maximillion’s influence is clearly Deep American South replete with Southern drawl. Xavier Rudd’s brother is a humble yet talented performer.
The main act opened very soon afterwards in signature upbeat style with ‘Honeymoon Bay’ and lyrics to raise the crowd’s mood and consciousness (“I believe, come believe with me”). Raising his didge effortlessly high with his unmistakeable frame projecting a dramatic shadow onto The Paddock’s shipping containers, the stage was set for the spiritual high that Rudd performances are known for.
Reggae is peppered throughout any Rudd performance, and while he occasionally lost the crowd in some less than engaging play, ‘Come Let Go’ was true to the original and drew the crowd in with gentle lyrics like “we come with peace in our hearts”. He encouraged the crowd to celebrate the unity of the gathered tribe when he said “We can be proud of the conscious movement in this country”. When he sang “I feel there is a change coming”, we could all feel it in the crowd. ‘Come People’ from the ‘Nanna’ album was more rousing and ‘Sacred’ from the same album also emotive. Whenever Rudd sings “I believe”, we all want to, and we’re singing along for the oceans, the children, the Great Barrier Reef. His heart poured emotion into singing “why are we so divided?” and he ended the song with a literal roar echoing toward the sky. Rudd knows how to take care of the crowd’s emotions, and followed with the simple love song ‘Fly Me High’ bringing us down from his emotive war cry.
Rudd is an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist, and switches from acoustic guitar, to slide, to electric, to didgeridoo, to harmonica effortlessly. He even gave a pounding drum solo with two didgeridoos at the start of his encore. His didge playing is fast paced and kept a manic mood as the Aboriginal flag was waved signalling his message of reconciliation. Rudd’s energy on stage is unrelenting. ‘Rusty Hammer’ was accompanied by a reggae pas de deux with his bass player. ‘Stormboy’ may be a little reminiscent of ‘Follow the Sun’ but had everyone uplifted singing along to “shalalalalala, we’re just living in this beautiful world”. We were also singing along to “don’t understand” while playing his guitar solo, and his subliminal message sank in.
‘Gather the Hands’ is a meditative and sad song, and Rudd ended the song in a beautiful chant and respectfully laid down to honour the earth. Our spirits were soon lifted with the upbeat ‘Walk Away’ echoing what so many of us really want in our lives.
The crowd wouldn’t let Rudd get away without playing ‘Follow the Sun’ and Rudd obliged during the encore along with ‘Let Me Be’. He left the crowd with the mesmerising chanting of ‘Spirit Bird’ and message of hope; “Soldier On. Keep fighting for your land. Slowly it fades…”. Then finally ‘Stand Together’.
IMAGES (C) Danny Santangelo