REVIEW Xavier Rudd performance at Woodford Folk Festival

by Haley Smith

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Xavier Rudd with the crowd in the palm of his hand. Picture Dylan Crawford @seewhatdsees

The anticipation in the crowd builds as the lights flicker on and off, the last final checks before the multi-instrumentalist strolls casually onto the stage as though he is taking a stroll in the park. Without saying a word, the music begins, a tribal drum beat by

Lisa Purmodh pounds through the crowd accompanied by the ferocious keyboard player and Rudd’s soothing voice and sharp guitar create a wonderland of sound.

In his trademark bare-feet he raises his arms up to the tranquil lighting like a spiritual leader, all eyes are glued on him as he plays the didgeridoo high in the air. The crowd cheers with delight, clapping and dancing to the deep tribal sounds that seem to build louder and louder as he raises the didgeridoo higher and higher.

All the musicians blended together in a symphony of sound, working together like an orchestra as they turn the crowd into radiant smiles and dancing feet.

Xavier sits down with the guitar laying in his lap to begin his solo piece. Blending it perfectly with his soft voice and harmonic tones he slides the strings along in a bluesy-reggae style. He speaks to the crowd with intimacy and connectivity and it’s hard not to feel this energy in the crowd with people nodding and cheering in agreement as he speaks of love and kindness. His speech is real and genuine as he continues with warmth about social change, loving all people and appreciating diversity in this world.

The stand out of the show is keyboard player Ian Peres who flips and whips his mop of curly hair with energetic force, falling dramatically to his knees as his hands pour over the keys with fluid and otherworldly movement. He headbanged his heart out, throwing all his energy and soul into the performance as the other instruments rose up to meet his intensity. The sound was richly layered with all elements of the band weaving together with beaming smiles that radiated out to the crowd. He was distinct, unique and unforgettable in his stage presence.

Xavier held the crowd’s attention with ease, floating around with light feet and swapping instruments with each song, showcasing his multi-talented diversity. There is an authenticity to his lyrics and it translates through his connection to the crowd and those on stage with him. I left feeling grateful to have been a part of this musical experience.

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