Live Review: Yelawolf

20 December 2017 | 2:14 pm | Renee Wilson

"Yelawolf wraps paper around the microphone before audaciously lighting it on fire, smashing the flaming microphone into the ground and then throwing the remains into the crowd."

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There's excitement buzzing inside Forum Theatre tonight as we anticipate Yelawolf's return to Melbourne since his last show in 2015.

The Slumerican flag backdrop sets the scene, with stars and lightning bolts adorned on a black curtain; a recognisable symbol to dedicated fans. As the lights dim, the anticipation heightens and the crowd erupts in a chant of "Ye-la". Frank Fanelli, or Frankie One Finger as he's appropriately named, boldly struts out in a balaclava with his middle finger raised up high. Grant Benziger trails behind, pushing his long plaits out the way and picking up his guitar. Keegan Kelly, also known as Stix n Bones, follows suit by taking his throne behind the kit. Wearing a red bandana, cut-off denim vest and sunglasses indoors, Yelawolf takes the stage and visually establishes the Alabama attitude we've come to know and love.

Empty Bottles opens the night, a crowd favourite that sees us singing along to the catchy chorus. There's a brief interlude with the intention of sparking some interstate rivalry with Yelawolf smugly saying, "They said Brisbane was the loudest fucking city in Australia. Fuck, Brisbane!" Well, of course, Melburnians are having none of that and playfully bellowing, "Fuck, Brisbane!" In between sculling a beer and shamelessly swinging the microphone around his head, Yelawolf drops fan-favourites like Catfish Billy and the high intensity Push 'Em, which sees Benziger trade guitar for banjo. The frantic percussion sends drinks flying in the moshpit. Billy Crystal and Outerspace keep the adrenaline pumping before they transition into the slower-paced Best Friend, which sees Yelawolf paying homage to his friend Eminem: "When the critics were doubting me, Marshall Mathers stood right behind me and he never fucking gave up on me."

Yelawolf also opens up about his struggles with addiction and how he "had the toughest time of [his] life last year". "I hit rock bottom. Because I'm a fucking addict. That's what I am," he confesses. A sea of lighters and cell phones emerge for Devil In My VeinsTennessee Love and Heartbreak follow, which leads Yelawolf into unexpected political commentary with, "I don't give a fuck about politics or anything like that, really," before ironically launching into a spiel: "Fuck Donald Trump. And fuck Hillary, too, for that matter." It comes across as a dated monologue designed to try and spark crowd engagement. That's not to say it doesn't work, though. Pop The Trunk, Get Mine and American You are woven into the mix, before we see a mass of lighters tossed on stage to aid Yelawolf in shamelessly lighting a joint before closing the set with Till It's Gone.

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We're fed an a cappella rendition of Row Your Boat as an encore, which has everyone stomping along and singing in unison. Strobe lights match the ferocity of Daddy's Lambo and Hard White (Up In The Club), before we're egged-on to create some havoc. The high-velocity, frenzy-inducing track Punk is the perfect finisher as the mosh feeds off Yelawolf's tempo and energy. Yelawolf wraps paper around the microphone before audaciously lighting it on fire, smashing the flaming microphone into the ground and then throwing the remains into the crowd. He knows how to put on a show, and he clearly doesn't give a fuck what anyone has to say about it.