Each year since 1986, the Melbourne Festival has curated global talent from dance, theatre, circus and music. The festival is a small reminder of the wonderfully eclectic artistically cultural the world shares and once again, this year’s line-up is just that. On the music side of things, we have the influential pop-punk group The Fall to the enigmatic soundscapes of the collaboration of Olafur Arnalds and DJ Producer Janus Rasmussen, aka Kiasmos, we are spoilt for choice. To top it all off here we are at the Foxtel Hub to experience L.A. based duo Rhye (tonight a band) features the extraordinary contralto voice of Canadian Mike Milosh and multi-talented Danish instrumentalist Robin Hannibal.
I was introduced to Rhye well over a year ago by a friend who sent me their, then, latest single, The Fall and within moments of hearing the opening moments with all it’s laid back groove and the unmistakeable tone of Milosh’s sweet voice, I was on board. This wasn’t typical music they I am usually drawn too, but something overwhelmed me about the overall sound. Their debut album and only album to date, Woman, soon became my top 5 albums of 2014 and I continue to reap the benefits of it today. Even more so after tonight’s gigs. So as the night sets in, a belly full of quesadilla and guacamole we head on over to the brilliantly set-up Foxtel Hub Venue to check out support act Claudio.
Claudio, is a European-based Australian artist/composer/producer who quickly wins over the audience with her compelling electro music, big voice and wonderful charisma. Her audience banter comes from the heart and she urges the audience to support her and raise their voices in appreciation as a vote of confidence that we actually like what she is conjuring up from her laptop and various keyboards. Claudio is a bundle of talent, unique in her music and tonight would have won over a few musical ears and hearts.
With an eclectic mix of punters in the audience, the very cool and good looking Rhye (has to be said) emerge on stage, they pretty much instantly set the scene for what will be an hour and a bit of the most seductive, sensual, heart-felt, melodic, groove-laden, jazzy and atmospheric set that many of us have heard for a very long time. You see, I don’t think any of us could really put a finger on the genre of Rhye. What made tonight special in so many ways was the honest and delicate nature by which the band played out each of their songs from their album.
Having read reviews about Rhye and hearing some of their tracks played out completely different live, I had some level of hesitation as the majority of songs are perfect in their way they are record. Live however, Rhye show complete musical craftsmanship as they flip most of their songs on their head, sounding unrecognisable and brand new. Bands never risk doing this as they know that their popularity is built upon their produced releases, but to take perfectly crafted songwriting and have the confidence and belief to change their mood, progression and ambience, made tonight feel like a once in a lifetime experience.
3 Days, was played out with a downtempo feel that took all the groove out of the original recording, but tonight’s version, was soulful and heartfelt with just enough groove to make it just as good. Singles The Fall and Open were met with the loudest applause but it was the not so known tracks that, tonight, got the crowd moving, through the precision of each chord that each band member played out.
Milosh is everything that I expected, his passion for what he does as a singer and musician oozes through every hand gesture, sung note and simple groove of understanding that he shuffles out while the band break out into a jam. He often applauds his band after some of the songs tonight that is a sure sign that he too is witnessing impeccable improvised talent.
It was during one of their tracks that things got a little awkward, when Milosh had to point out two disrespectful young guys in the audience who just wouldn’t stop talking. Funnily enough I already noticed the buggers a little earlier. It is one of my 10 commandments of a gig…..Anyhow, it was clearly one of Milosh’s too, instead of raising a scene (he had every right too), Milosh simply sung to them, while playing out the song, asking them to pretty much “shut the hell up and stop ruining it for the rest of us. ” The awkwardness quickly passed and the band played on for what was a perfect night of beautiful music from a very talented and underrated group of musicians.
Overall there were moments tonight when it seemed the audience looked alienated in the improvised and impromptu play out of some of the songs, but all in all, it was a night left all of us touched with just enough groove to last us our trip home and sets our excitement for the follow up album.