In today’s current musical climate, truly original acts are all too few and far between. Apart from a few shining stars, most artists seem to be a slight variation on an idea that just came before or a complete revival of something from long ago. Melbourne’s The RAah Project, are one of those shining stars. Consisting of Mc/Composer, Ryan Ritchie and Violinist/Composer, Tamil Rogeon, they blend jazz and classical music with hip-hop, pop and electronica. A logical step from the pair’s former outfit, the hip hop rooted, True Live.
With thanks to The Brunswick Music Festival, they take up residency at one of the newer venues on the Melbourne live circuit, Estonian House. Walking in, I was perplexed by the oddity of the venue. High ceilings, a dedicated dance floor area in front of stage, carpeted back area and a small, makeshift bar. Great venue but it kind of felt like I was at a school dance.
Venue aside, I was there for the music and got there just in time to catch opening act, Tanzer. A solo project for Melbourne based songstress, Hayley Foster who was backed by a flawless band. She weaved her way through 60’s inspired pop and dark operatic love songs that could easily provide the musical bed to any Tarantino film. With shades of Bjork and even Kimbra, she showed glimpses of absolute brilliance. Someone for me to keep an eye on, you should too.
The most diverse crowd that I’d ever seen at a show slowly meander in just in time for the main event. Young, old, hipsters, anti-hipsters and even a few metal heads. Unlike The RAah Project’s last album launch, there would be no sell out tonight but, with such a big room and self-confessed ‘left of center’ project, it was no real surprise.
As the lights dim, the orchestra slowly appears onstage as Tamil and Ryan take their place front and center. They launch into their first track to a dead quiet audience. I don’t think I was the only punter who didn’t know what to expect.
Regrettably the opening punch never really came. Maybe it was the high ceilings, lack of a full house, or both but the sound seemed to get lost throughout the venue. With full orchestra playing I could still easily hear Tamil clapping along to the songs and even his onstage banter to the orchestra. Unfortunately something that would only get marginally better throughout their set.
Surprisingly they played latest single, the electronic based ‘Kill me in the summer’ second. Deep sub sounds supplied the backbone as their drummer substituted his live kit for a sample pad. A true standout and something that I wish they did more of as this was the core of the projects originality.
For almost the next 2 hours, the two alternated roles as orchestra conductor as they played through cuts from both albums and even treating us to some brand new compositions, some more memorable than others. New cut, “The Winter”, being one of the show highlights.
Ryan’s flow and audience banter was also a show highlight. Poking fun at the pointless crowd barrier, “Everyone knows orchestra crowds are the worst”. It broke down the separation between crowd and artist and really made the show feel personal to everyone there.
Confessing to the audience that they were “not an encore band”, they closed the night with their first single, “Covered Up In Stars”. Funnily, Ryan read out the names of the orchestra off of a piece of paper and with a band that size, I don’t blame him.
As they retire the live show in favor of making the next record, I look forward to seeing what’s next for The RAah Project. I only hope that they champion those truly original elements as that his where their true beauty lies.