Live Review: Urthboy, Mirrah, Jayteehazard

26 November 2018 | 11:12 am | Mick Radojkovic

"The chemistry between the two was a joy to witness, seamlessly manoeuvring around the stage."

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The job of the opening DJ is usually to set the mood for the night, but when you’re one of the best DJs in the land, it’s easy to make it much more. Jayteehazard slipped originals into a night-shaping set that reinforced why he is the go-to producer and DJ around Newcastle and Sydney.

Suitably adorned in shirts simply saying ‘love’, Mirrah, along with DJ MK-1 and three backing vocalists took to the stage. With a perennial smile, they performed a selection of tracks from debut EP, Life, as well as brand new song, Hold On, which was to debut the next day. Mirrah’s positive attitude to life infected the crowd as they swarmed in to watch the singer, rapper and spoken-word artist give an inspirational set that she admitted has been five years in the making. Love, just like Mirrah’s music, is infectious and beautiful, and she surely gained a slew of new fans.

With a nostalgic feeling in the air and the stage covered in tiny illuminated characters, Urthboy, along with his DJ, Jayteehazard, quietly slipped onto the stage. Following a heartfelt Welcome To Country, Urthboy dove straight into the title track off his second, but most seminal album, The Signal. In a special treat, Urthboy’s long-time stage partner Jane Tyrrell shared the stage for the evening.

The chemistry between the two was a joy to witness, seamlessly manoeuvring around the stage, Tyrrell, filling the vocal gaps that had been sorely missed. Later in the night, Over Before It Began would bring back great memories of the playful banter between the two across the many years they performed together.

In the first of many guest vocalists, Hau Latukefu and Mirrah jumped up for Nuthin I’d Rather Do and we heard stories of midnight recording sessions in the Blue Mountains between Urthboy and El Gusto as they wrote We Get Around. In fact, the banter in between songs added an autobiographical lean to the night and reinforced that classic album tours should always include these parts, adding so much more context to the performance.

The album, warts and all, is a journey through the mind of Urthboy, but it’s the personal songs of loss, love and experience in Black Dog and No Other, that highlight why his songwriting is seen as some of the best in the country. Oh yeah, and his humour. “I hope all the bits where we’re not professional, you forget”, exclaims the singer before thanking his DJ for saving his arse repeatedly.

After rounding out the album, we were treated to three extra tracks including the perfectly fun Shruggin and the more recent, Crushing Hard. One final guest, in the undeniably wonderful Bertie Blackman, rounded out the show with a passionate retelling of the ‘greatest love story ever told’ in Long Loud Hours.

Witnessing Urthboy embrace his history, his collaborators, his Elefant Traks family (celebrating 20 years as a label) and his fans make us remember why Australian hip hop has exploded into what it is today. It’s about the love of good people around you and a passion to tell your story through music. Urthboy spoke for us all tonight before encouraging us to, “Give it up for yourselves!”