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Live Review: Xavier Rudd, Maximillian

6 August 2018 | 5:20 pm | Brendan Delavere

"Transporting you away to a warmer place as the lights danced across the roof of the tent."

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Touring for his latest album Storm Boy, punters were praying the imposing storm would hold off for tonight's Xavier Rudd show. 

Despite the sprinkling of rain threatening overhead, the carnival big top was swiftly filling as sole support Maximillian softly strummed away on stage.

Lounged out on deck chairs and picnic blankets, the early arrivals were treated to a soft mix of blues guitar, soulful harmonies and pop sensibilities. Instrumental guitar numbers with a dash of Brazilian melody, a touching cover of Randy Newman's You've Got A Friend In Me and a bluesy cover of Ray Charles' I Got A Woman that had many people questioning if he was covering Kanye West.

Those up the front were treated to the smooth jams of Maximillian, but unfortunately, the sound didn't carry well and many toward the back chose to chatter away.

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Coming to the stage 15 minutes past the set time, and now as a four-piece, Byron Bay's Xavier Rudd brought the bush to the Big Top, opening with Keep It Simple

The set centred heavily on the new album, Storm Boy, as well as a strong showing of tracks from his United Nations album.

Rusty Hammer from said album saw Rudd put down his guitar and stand centre stage, didgeridoo in hand, to much applause from the full tent. Being the multi-instrumentalist he is, the show would continue like this for the duration, Rudd swapping from guitar to didge and back to slide guitar and stompbox.

A moment during Come Let Go had the crowd divided when Rudd asked our collective feelings on the future of our country. Scattered cheers amidst a sea of "boos" measured the faith in Australia, though Rudd said he could "feel a change coming". Let's hope he is right.

It became apparent as the night wore on that many in attendance were unfamiliar with Xavier and co's more recent material as one by one the crowd became disassociated, talking or spending time at the bar. Feet On The Ground, Honeymoon Bay and the title track Storm Boy — though sounding magical, transporting you away to a warmer place as the lights danced across the roof of the tent — fell victim to the rising chatter of those around bringing us back to reality.

Soften The Blow, Bow Down and the natural beauty of Follow The Sun saw the crowd snap to attention with girls on shoulders as the magpie song swirled around the big top.

After almost two hours on stage, the band left, with Rudd returning alone, a star-lit solo performance behind his signature drum and Yidaki rig for Lioness Eye. The final performance, an extended Let Me Be, left the crowd singing and though it held off all night, the rain began to fall as we filtered into the dark, the circus tent silent once more.