I WAS THERE | RUFUS @ FESTIVAL HALL – 06.05.16
As I walked into Festival Hall for Rufus’s Bloom tour, prior to the first band stepping on stage, or the first stage light beaming across the crowd, I was greeted by an incredible sight. Reaching over the stage and tantalising close to the audience was a ring of lights, like a halo for the night to come, representative of the what the beloved Sydney based three piece have become. Their debut album, Atlas set them on a path to domination, but their sophomore Bloom is something that the world could not ignore, as you can tell by this world tour that refused to let tickets linger.
Opening the night was Tora. While the band have been floating around a while, it’s rare to see them so far south. They set the night off perfectly though. As the standing room filled gradually, they flew through a half an hour of wonderful tracks, showcasing their versatility and the strength of themselves and their guest vocalist with a comfortable ease that we are not used to seeing from bands so small. They were stifled by some poor sound quality that refused to go away until Rufus came on stage, but it was hard to see a face that cared. Their music was fun, but not in your face, breaking any social barriers that could have held back people’s dancing. It’s without a doubt that this tour has opened an audience eyes up to the band, and it would be surprising if we go long without seeing them doing their own thing down here again.
Hailing from Vancouver, Bob Moses hit Australian shores for the tour, and while starting off sounding a little vanilla proved their worth as the set went on. With ever building synth lines and catchy vocals, it’s easy to understand how Rufus could have fallen in love with the band like they claimed. The performance by the pair was pretty simple, one half on keys, the other on guitar and vocals, yet it worked well. It didn’t need to be stuffed full of extras to blow the crowd away. They were dwarfed by the halo of lights that had been set up for Rufus, but filled the space, and had the crowd grooving away as they pulled ever closer to the front of the stage. The material at the end of the set leant heavily into the sound that is so strongly associated with Rufus, again, making it feel as if they were the perfect selection for the night.
With four years of constant touring, and consistently impressive releases, it is hard to imagine that Rufus would put on a lacklustre show. And they didn’t. It was a representation of how far they have come since they first emerged on the scene, from the moment they walked on stage the audience was captivated and ready to engage. The set worked flawlessly across their back catalogue never leaning too heavily into either of their albums which is refreshing. As the hour and a half long set continued, it became ever more indulgent with ‘Innerbloom’ being played out almost in full being a highlight of the set. The subtle flow of energy in the track, never big enough to make you dance but always close enough to make you sway combined with Tyrone Lindqvist’s soulful presentation of vocals made the track cut to the heart with an uncanny ease. The trio never stopped, there was minimal padding between the tracks as they hammered out fan favourite after fan favourite. ‘Like an Animal’, ‘You were Right’, and ‘Take Me’ all earnt the crowd roaring the lyrics along, while the floor was a mass of bodies boogieing away. If you ever found the chance to drag your eyes away from the almost garish light show that was backing the band, you could see that the seats in the stalls were abandoned from the get go with the entire audience wanting to get involved. While the light show for the set was at times a little over indulgent for the size of the venue, there was an honest simplicity behind the set that made it so wonderful to witness. As to be expected, the set closed on an encore of two tracks. Refreshingly however, was a fully reworked version of ‘Tonight’. This new piece was grittier than we have ever heard from the band, but worked perfectly, revealing the potential that they still have to grow into. When Rufus announced the size of the venues for this tour, it was a little hard to believe that they would be able to pull it off. Yet they did with a professionalism that was impossible to ignore, or not be impressed by. It’s hard to tell where they are going to end up next, but we can safely assure that they are unlikely to disappoint us anytime soon given their track record, and here – another excellent performance.
By Ayden Measham-Pywell