In Early February, RUFUS announced their Australian tour, a tour that coincide with the now recently honoured Gold album “Bloom”. This followed an extensive tour of Europe and US and playing too an enormous crowd at Coachella. We, the wandering, were quick to pick up the news and modestly announced it on our Facebook page, quickly seeing our viewings hit over 500,000. Offering our Facebook event page to their management, we graciously watched, as their fans revelled in this exciting announcement. Following tonight’s sold-out show all this hoo-ha made sense and with support from the equally talented Canadian Alternative Electronic duo Bob Moses and Bryon Bay’s Tora, tonight we experienced celebratory bliss to a new dimension.
We had every intention to arrive early enough to catch the full length of Tora’s set, however with good reason we were fashionably late. With thanks to the team at Leisurely and Rufus Management we were honoured with a handful of tickets for both Sydney and Melbourne shows as a gesture of thanks for our support, but with 2 ticket spare for this performance it would be disrespectful for us not to give them away. So, as we trawled the outside of Festival Hall, we found 2 distressed punters who were unable to retrieve their bar code on their phones, refusing them entry. TWL put an end to their anxiety.
Swapping our tickets for seating (we dance on the inside) after a gruelling week of incessant gigging (4 nights straight) we entered the proportionately challenged Festival Hall, of what transpires would be a question raised by RUFUS too. Taking seats to the side, almost at 90 degrees to the stage, seated as if to be preparing to watch a boxing match there was a large fence separating us from the standing punters below), Tora were in the final bouts of their set, in front of an already eager and acknowledging crowd. We managed to absorb a few of their songs, a collection of musicians on stage stomping to their own rhythm, a sound that was reminiscent of James Blake, The Streets and Chet Faker.
Despite 95% of the surfy branded T-shirt wearing dudes and overdressed ladies here only to see their Sydney trio play the songs they love to drink and take happy pills too, we are certain that only a few of us knew just how good Bob Moses were as leaders in electronic, alternative dance music. Tonight there is no doubt they would leave Australia with a load more fans, playing through a collection of their relatively small catalogue of sometimes deep house, dark beats, rave and sometimes alt-pop tracks. Supported by an outstanding light rig set up for RUFUS, Bob Moses took us on a journey through cleverly considered and expertly produced dance music. The duo oscillated through their first 3 tracks back to back, taking us back to the rave days of the 90s, the lighting ingeniously keeping things dark with pulsating strobes, removing any sense of dance nerves from the crowd, the party was underway.
Jimmy Vallance and Tom Howie, showcased their divergence with tracks that reminded us of the past brilliance of Death in Vegas, Houses and Dirty Vegas (if you like Bob Moses, check them out), their studio tracks played out live to create the feeling of a 90s club. The duo didn’t shy away from their R&B, Bluesy laden tracks that kept the atmosphere varied, despite the audience clearly hungry and wired for one thing. Bob Moses finish a compelling set with a taster of new material and certified us as fans of their grown up beats of “proper” dance music.
Let’s play this live experience story in reverse and cut to the concluding words, tonight RUFUS played one of the best live shows we have experienced in some time, ticking every box of what makes a live performance so satisfying. Lighting, check. Sound, check. Vibe, check. Banter, check. Audience appreciation, double-check. Set list diversity, check. From a writer who lost his way with the dance genre many years ago, tonight RUFUS had us dancing with joy and appreciation that live electronic music doesn’t get much better than this.
Carried by the roar of the crowd who made the hall feel like we were in a distant festival field, Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt tuned us into “Brighter” opening track from Bloom, instantly capturing the sound of the album and momentarily had us nervous that we would just hear the album electronically played out over a very loud PA. What a mistake of judgement that was, the trio took it to a whole new level, showing just what makes them the accomplished bastards they are, this is what live electronic music was all about. With the audience already sitting on shoulders of their supportive friends, this was a special event, a celebration of Australian dance music, music that in my judgemental age again proved to me that we can lead the musical world across all genres.
Track after track were faultless, raising the roof and layering their studio recordings with so much love that when played live, the songs sound bigger and full, Lindqvist vocals were exceptional, Jon and James grooving to their own beat, curating the audience into a dance frenzy of goosebump proportions. We, who were seated, were no longer seated, the energy filled the space, feet were stomping, hips were swaying and arms were in the air. “Tell Me” “Say A Prayer For Me” and “Hypnotized” throbbed through the PA, “Hypnotized” inviting female guest vocals to the stage, as per the album, bringing a warm breeze of Ibiza to Melbourne, and a chance for the audience to catch their breath. Stunning.
The lighting rig that suspended across the audience lit up the euphoric crowd, while lasers pulsated behind the band, programmed to the beat, from where we stood, looking over the crowd it was spectacle, a celebration and you could easily be mistaken for thinking we were actually banged up in some awkwardly shaped auditorium at the arse end of Melbourne city.
The trio commanded the stage with their instrumentation, the masterful ways of their electronic drums, “real” drums, synths and guitars, smiling at one another, smiling at the crowd, they were as much part of this celebration as we were. Although the majority of the tracks tonight took from “Bloom”, “Desert Nights” and “Tonight”, with Lindqvist singing “its freaking me out” peaked the crowd into rave proportions, it was at this stage the night had peaked, leading into “Inner Bloom”, a 9-minute soundscape that we learnt had the trio locked in a studio for 2 days to come up with, what is, in our opinion, the best song of their career. Again we warm up our arms, trying to rid of the returning goosebumps. It is both euphoric and emotional, and for dance music to hit both these emotions is a near impossible task but also a testament. Finishing with yet another crowd favourite “Like An Animal” the crowd respond with the loudest roar we had heard in recent time.
Of course, we are treated to an encore, finishing with ”You Were Right” there recently awarded Platinum single, at this stage, we are overloaded with beats, and use this closer to reflect on what we had experienced, each song carried its own and the band just completed one of the best sets we had seen in recent times. You get the hint. RUFUS, thanks for making me feel 25 again, Ive never danced so much on the inside.