Rudimental @ Riverstage - 07/05/16

It was only six months ago that UK band Rudimental last hit our shores and on Saturday evening they once again returned to Brisbane, kicking off the Australian leg of their world tour.

Under a chilly clear sky, Sydney based songstress Thandi Phoenix warmed up the slowly building all-ages crowd at the open aired Riverstage. Following the echoes of Phoenix’s pleasant voice and the wafting smell of hot food, more and more fans slowly ambled through the venue’s gates, ready to be entertained.

Entering from stage right under purple lights, English singer Jess Glynne began her set, noticeably greeted by adoring young fans who stood against the front row barrier armed with their mobile phones ready to capture snippets of each song. Glynne confidently worked the stage delivering a suite of songs from her 2015 debut album I Cry When I Laugh showcasing not only strong and varied vocals but also the talent of her back-up vocalists (Holly Petrie and Sena) and instrumentalists on rhythm guitar, synth, drums and bass. Real Love and Rather Be proved to be crowd favourites, with everyone singing along. The energy flowed as Glynne then followed with My Love (a song written for her parents),Take Me Home (featuring synchronised microphone moves, a guitar solo and harmonised scatting) and No Rights, No Wrongs.

Before continuing with another popular hit Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself, Glynne made note that she was not used to Australia’s heat and that her hair was going frizzy, referencing Monica from the TV series Friends. Finishing off the set for her first Australian show, Glynne performed Hold My Hand in a lower key to her studio recording, with the moderately large crowd singing and clapping along with delight.

While fans patiently queued to use the pop-up restrooms after Glynne’s set, crew members on stage busily arranged raised platforms, synthesisers, keyboards, disco balls, microphones and towels to reveal the symmetrical dance floor where eight-piece Rudimental were soon to work up a sweat. 

Thirty seconds or so before Rudimental emerged from a thick cloud of smoke, the venue lights dimmed and blinding strobes began to flicker. Suddenly out of nowhere all eight performers appeared on stage, high fiving each other and waving to the screaming crowd. During the intro antics, Piers Agget (dressed in a white hoodie, dark-coloured trousers, bandanna, sunglasses and light up shoes) and DJ Locksmith (aka Leon Rolle) bounced across the stage like two children on a jumping castle. The act’s first song Right Here (from their 2013 album, Home) then followed, featuring Bridgette Amofah on vocals. A few songs later, Thomas Jules jumped down into the pit to be closer to the crowd and to pose for a few photos before bounding back on stage to dance with Kesi Dryden on keytar.

During the first chorus of Rumour Mill, special guest Anne-Marie skipped across the stage to the sound of wolf whistles before continuing with the second verse, followed by Mark Crown’s trumpet solo. Halfway through singing Do It Right, a sombrero from the crowd made its way on stage. Anne-Marie quickly collected the straw hat and wore it for the rest of the song. She then placed it to the side of the stage before jumping into Love Ain’t Just A Wordwhere half the crowd followed her lead, raising one hand in the air like a giant gospel choir.

Even though drummer Beanie Bhebhe was perched behind his psychedelic tie-dye styled drum kit for the entire set, his driving rhythms and head banging dreadlocks proved to be thoroughly entertaining and eye-catching. During the lesser-known tracks, Locksmith tried hard to keep the energy levels high, by encouraging event goers to jump, wildly dance or raise friends on their shoulders. This tactic proved to be mildly successful but many audience members remained resolutely still or comfortably seated on the hill. Visual aids emitted via the three-panel LED backdrop, as well as roaming spotlights also kept the visual interest going, particularly for those more distant from the stage. 

Rounding off the evening’s set was Feel The Love and as soon as the group had left the stage, persistent fans close to the front continued clapping and chanting ‘You know I said it’s true, I can feel the love can you feel it too? I can feel it ah-ah, I can feel it ah-ah’ in hope of an encore. After what seemed like an eternity, Locksmith returned to the stage under a single spotlight with the rest of the band emerging from the red glow behind him. Give You Up reignited the crowd’s energy and the highly anticipated Waiting All Night rounded off the highly intense set, but not before Locksmith spontaneously took his top off, danced around some more and took a crowd selfie, leaving the stage saying‘Brisbane, you are f*cking incredible, peace!’

Aside from that one cheeky expletive right at the very end, the evening’s entertainment proved that in this day and age, it is still possible to have clean fun at a concert and go home at a decent hour too!

This review was first published on 10 May 2016 for Amnplify.

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