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Live Review: Rhye, Rachel Claudio

19 October 2015 | 1:55 pm | Matt MacMaster

"Everyone rose to their full potential as live musicians to really flesh out the material."

Perth by-way-of Paris bedroom producer Rachel Claudio surprised us with her Annie-Lennox-underwater vocal layering and versatile songwriting. It was a ghostly vibe that somehow felt playful and loose, a nice counterbalance to the overtly gothic textures she was generating on her synth set-up. Her rapping felt odd, but seemed to have a kernel of truth to it. It was a natural fit, she never really pushed it too hard; it was just a little awkwardly delivered, as if she simply needed to develop that aspect more. She was fun, and her voice was great.

As a live ensemble Rhye worked beautifully. It was essentially a chamber group that happened to pump out sultry, sophisticated analogue R&B, headed by a guy with a truly next-level voice that looked like an anonymous guy from payroll with his shirt untucked (it was Saturday, after all). It felt intimate, with the mix at a level that covered all the nice details without ratcheting up the drums (as is the tendency when they replace drum samples or machines on stage). Everyone rose to their full potential as live musicians to really flesh out the material. On record their sound is surprisingly light, like whipped butter, but on stage it was allowed to settle and congeal and form syrupy slow jams that felt earthier and far more physical.

The largely female audience meant the mood was mellow, a welcome antidote to the masculine peacocking that usually sees us through a weekend at the OAF (no offence, lads!). The crowd responded well to singer Milosh's silky androgynous vocals, although it was interesting that after the initial sugary hit our enjoyment seemed to plateau, with no real ebbs or flows or surprises to spike interest or enthusiasm. Not to say we got bored, far from it, we just seemed to float off into our own chatty cliques without a dynamic core to snap us back to attention.

Rhye's debut Sydney performance was excellent; a sexy, nuanced display of raw talent and great songwriting that used a fantastic (and varied) ensemble to transcend the tired R&B formula.

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