Xavier Rudd + Bobby Alu @ MTelus – 26th September 2019

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Xavier Rudd in Montreal

After returning home from spending a year in Australia, it only made sense that the first live show I attend back in Montreal would be Xavier Rudd – an iconic Australian artist. 

18 months after the release of his latest album Storm Boy, Xavier Rudd visited the MTelus stage on a rainy Thursday night for a stop on his North American tour. 

With 9 albums in his back pocket, the Australian multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter sure knows how to put on an intense and energetic, yet dreamy and captivating show. 

I got to the venue most interested in finding out what kind of crowd would show up for a Xavier Rudd gig. An array of people – that’s what. It was mostly an older crowd, and those not stressed about budding their way for a front-row view. There were flower crowns, man buns, beards, and a lot of tattoos. Some parents on a date, and even kids with their parents. I even spotted a few little ones strapped to their mom’s backs. Xavier Rudd for everyone! 

Bobby Alu

First up – Bobby Alu. The Samoan/Australian rhythm superstar let us know it was his first time in Montreal, let alone his first show in Canada. The crowd went nuts for him and welcomed him with open arms like the polite people we are. He walked out with shaggy hair, a pink shirt and a ukulele in hand. 

After his first song that drew everyone closer to the stage, he introduced himself, “My name is Bobby Alu. I’m a Sagittarius and I’m happy to be here with you.” He rhymes. A true lyricist. 

His smooth and tropical songs immediately put everyone in a trance and set the mood for the night. His Samoan roots are deeply embedded in his music shown in the flag presented on stage, all the while telling family stories of Australia. Then, Bobby Alu (I feel like a name like his has to be said all at once) sat down at his wooden drum set which he educated us that it’s called a pate: a Samoan percussion instrument. He went into an epic jam session and got everybody dancing with a call and response song. 

His set was short, but he definitely left everybody wanting more.  

Thirty minutes later, the man himself – Xavier Rudd – floated on to the stage like the powerful being he is, barefoot, of course. Being an honorary Canadian citizen, he welcomed the crowd with love and good energy. MTelus was packed and sweaty. 

He started off with a bang with ‘The Mother’ and ‘Rusty Hammer’ and a crowd favourite, ‘Walk Away.’ When he sat with a guitar on his lap playing it August-Rush style and a harmonica headset, that’s when things got kicked into high gear. 

Then, the moment we were all waiting for: the infamous didgeridoo. He brought out the traditional Indigenous Australian wind instrument and surely gave the people what they wanted. As he played, the Australian Aboriginal black, red and yellow flag was waved as he gave acknowledgement to the traditional owners of the land. 

Most of his released songs are an average of 3-5 minutes. However, all music ‘guidelines’ are thrown out the window at an XR live show. He seamlessly transitioned into one song after the next, not knowing when one ends or begins. I was happy to hear my personal favourite, ‘Honeymoon Bay.’ It was a full-on party the whole time. 

At one point, all 3 band members gathered to the front of the stage with him for a little choreographed two-step accompanied by a bongo solo. It was truly amazing to watch him create magic on stage. Everyone was grooving and hips were loose by the time ‘Creancient’ was played. 

With his thick Australian accent, he spoke passionately, “We come with peace in our hearts. We come with love in our hearts. I think it’s time to put the human ego aside and respect the creation of the Earth we walk on.” Then he chanted with the crowd, “Do you feel there’s a change coming? I believe there’s a change coming.” Instant chills. 

Xavier Rudd is a true artist who spreads the energetic connection of his love for music. Not to mention being an insane musician. Is there any instrument this guy can’t play? 

He took to the electric guitar for a few lengthy instrumental improvisations, and then his band left for a couple stripped back songs including the album title, ‘Storm Boy.’ He sat at a drum kit with a microphone and double the didgeridoos. Being an advocate for Indigenous injustice, he dedicated ‘Messages’ to Aboriginal Australia and recognized Indigenous Canadians.

His powerful and timeless lyrics spoke to everyone in that room. With a starry sky background, he brought us into his own universe.

With a quick costume change, he put on a long sparkly coat (still barefoot) and danced around for ‘Flag’ as his band showed off their individual technical musical skill. I don’t think anyone in the venue stopped dancing for his 2 and a half-hour set. The man whose songs never end! 

Jacket off. Harmonica on. 

Time for the big one: ‘Follow The Sun’ and everyone sang the words so beautifully. He left the stage but the crowd begged for more as they stomped their feet and chanted for an encore.

He appeared backlit at the drum set. There was a crazy light show as ‘Lioness Eye’ was performed. The band came back on for ‘Let Me Be’ with so much zest and energy that the pianist took out his phone to record the crowd singing back so loudly. 

Finally, the show ended with an emotional ‘Spirit Bird’ that I saw some tears in the crowd! He threw up some peace signs to wave goodbye and told us, “Love each other. Love this land. See you again someday.” 

Everyone in the production came on stage for a full-on curtain call after the 150-minute set. It’s safe to assume there would have been a standing ovation if everyone wasn’t already standing. Rudd jumped off stage, still hyping up the crowd. What a show.

Those good, good Aussie vibes.

Highlight – All the words of ‘Follow The Sun’ being sung louder than Xavier Rudd himself. 

Lowlight – A highly intoxicated lady spilling her drink all over me. 

Crowd Pleaser – The didgeridoo solos. What else?

Set List

  • The Mother
  • Rusty Hammer
  • Walk Away
  • Come Let Go
  • Honeymoon Bay
  • The Reasons We Were Blessed
  • Food In The Belly
  • Creancient
  • Come People/Sacred 
  • Breeze
  • Storm Boy
  • Messages
  • GUKU
  • Home
  • Flag
  • Follow The Sun

    Encore
  • Lioness Eye
  • Let Me Be
  • Spirit Bird

Review & photos – Ryley Remedios

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