Fighting back the flu, The Kid LAROI gave it his all in a visibly tough night at the office.
The Kid LAROI is a national and international cultural phenomenon. As Australian music searched for a new superstar in the dying days of the last decade and COVID took hold, this talented Kamilaroi man snuck off to the states, hooking up with Juice WRLD and eventually Justin Bieber to show the rest of them how it's done. He captured the hearts and imaginations of teens across the world with his commercial two-minute pop masterpieces and this End Of The World Tour was his triumphant return home.
The average punter age was immediately evident as the long line-up of teenagers snaked its way through a graveyard of e-scooters eagerly awaiting resurrection from the crowd at gig's end. Brisbane turned on a bitterly cold wind (well, by Brisbane standards), but it didn't deter the crowd one bit, serving only to fuel the brisk trade of hoodies at the merch tent. The packed amphitheatre was full of anticipation, with the competent DJ set from TJ Mizell and warmup set from 16-year-old Indigenous rapper from Walgett, Lil Arts both well received, but it was clear the crowd were here for one thing only.
The Kid LAROI had made headlines all week with his Melbourne shows cancelled and his Monday night Brisbane show rescheduled, so all eyes were on The Kid for his return. The lights dimmed and BOOM, he ripped through energetic first song Let Her Go with all the jump and bounce required to drag the energy out of the crowd. It wasn't long however before it was obvious that the speculation about whether his illness last week was legitimate was firmly put to bed. With constant visits for water and an audibly croaky voice while talking between songs, it was clear The Kid was not well. The crowd willed him on and he did not disappoint.
While he relied heavily on the track vocals and his dancing was cut back as the set went on and he realised his limits on this night, The Kid LAROI left nothing on the park. Like a true professional, LAROI amended some of the higher vocals such as those in Without You, sat for some slower songs and clearly adapted his show to enable him to get through the night, but even the ability to adapt and deliver was the work of a true superstar in the making.
The show itself is a powerhouse showcase of a true Australian talent made for this decade. His two-minute songs, made for a Spotify world, were noticeably short in a live setting as he smashed through the set at a blistering pace. It's hard to believe as the hits come tumbling out that this is an artist who has yet to release a debut album. With no less than TEN gold and platinum hits under his belt, this was the first opportunity for Brisbane fans to see these songs live.
The show backloaded the biggest smashes, with So Done and Stay before LAROI gave a heartfelt account of an Instagram message from a fan whose friend had tickets to tonight's show but passed away recently, dedicating the final song Without You to them in a clearly emotional moment. Being able to deliver the song for that fan on this night was obviously a special thing for LAROI, made all the more so by the obvious struggle he had making it through the show to sing it.
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If this was his 'recovered' state, it's clear why he was unable to take the stage last week. Before we tear down this tall poppy, it might be worth remembering that humans do get sick. The 'Kid' on stage might be a masterful performer and insightful interpreter of youth culture, but he's first and foremost a human being. The stoic performance we got tonight was from an artist who probably needed another night off for his own health, but took to the stage to deliver for his fans. They didn't care about the flu. The show they got tonight was not at full power, but it had everything they came to see. Hit after hit, competently performed and the chance to see a true Australian superstar for the first time on the big stage.
In a show that barely lasted 45 minutes, it was a veritable greatest hits set, but left a lot of room for the hits inevitably still to come. To some, it may have seemed short (even given his health issues), but if you pack in that many sing-a-long jams in such a short space, perhaps it's what the audience wants in a short attention span world. Certainly, there were no complaints as the crowd rushed out of the gates to secure an e-scooter for the ride home.