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AAA Music | 26 May 2022

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Xavier Rudd – Live @ O2 Academy Bristol

| On 21, Sep 2018

Friday 14th September, Bristol

Xavier Rudd enters onto a dark stage, bare foot in the heart of Bristol creating a crescendo of screams as he launches into his new single ‘Honeymoon Bay’ – a reflection of “magic of our earth”. Rudd has been actively involved in organisations such as Sea Shepherd and various others organisations protecting Australian land against government plans, reflected within lyrics of mother earth and messages of peace and love between humans, especially within indigenous Australia. Not only do his messages reach out to his audiences but also icons in the musical community; Nahko Bearfellow – a musician singing of peace, love and harmony – even mentions Rudd in his song Wash it Away’ under Rudd’s aboriginal name, with the lyric: “Uncle Mana taught us like an elder”.

His aboriginal pride follows Rudd wherever he goes. Yosaf Haile replaces his bass guitar for a giant aboriginal flag in the track ‘Flag’ as Rudd’s lyrics “people keep on waving this flag” echo around the room. The song written around threatened communities in north-west Australia and a “need for positive change for reconciliation in our country” felt like a call for unity as the crowd danced and sang the catchy lyrics in unison, Rudd’s lyrics really bring people together and there is no surprise of success in the causes in which he is involved.

Xavier Rudd doesn’t forget about the importance of his band, his family – Ian Peres on keys; Lisa Purmodh on drums and Yosaf Haile on bass – introducing each of them individually to the crowd, along with a brief story of their history.

Intelligent, wise, catchy lyrics and beats create seas of movement as the crowd dance together – there is a real sense of togetherness here as Rudd moves away from Storm Boy to play ‘Follow the Sun’, ‘The Mother’, ‘Come People’ and ‘Bow Down’. Rudd doesn’t shy away from the dancefloor as him and bassist Haile entertain the crowd with a dance routine in ‘Come Let Go’. All eyes were transfixed on Peres for his passionate keyboard playing, even gaining laughs from the band when he sits on the floor and plays the keys blind.    

A notable connection is shared between the audience and Rudd as tears are shed to the sound of Spirit Bird being played from his custom-made guitar. People are shushing those talking and the crowd falls silent and all you can here is the beauty of the lyrics of this track. The crowd in unison are heard only when Rudd sings the famous line “Hey Mana, Yo Yo Yo” throughout the song, in harmony and quieter as the song comes to close. I have never witnessed a whole crowd share a moment like that – it was truly an atmosphere only Rudd could create.

The room falls dark, the crowd chant “we want more” and Xavier Rudd is going to give them what they want. Solo, he walks back onto stage in front of two didgeridoos, one set of chimes and several drums, and proceeds to play all at once. Suddenly the crowd is dancing, jumping around to sounds of animals calling, with a giant lion head flashing on the screen behind Rudd. As Rudd leaves and the lights come back on, I overheard someone say “this has made me want to save the environment”and from that alone we can see the power in Xavier Rudd’s songs.

Words + Photos: Abbie Barton