When we interviewed Xavier Rudd last month, we learnt of his environmentalist outlook and energy saving, disconnected house. We heard the lively stage-front greeting as he hung up the phone and stepped into an Australian arena, and we absorbed his love of -energy’, how grateful he feels to have developed his almost nomadic lifestyle and his ambitions for the world. In fact, there was only one thing we found it hard to go into great detail with Xavier on, and that’s his music: spiritual, heady and close to the heart.
His music, fortunately, speaks for itself. There’s a mystical, earthy texture to his sound, well developed, lyrically deep and heavily influenced by his moral leanings. Xavier’s not one to preach, he lets his music do the talking, swapping happily between didgeridoo and guitar, and – when his South African backing band -Izintaba’ take rhythmic control – reaching and twisting across the stage in a playful dance that whips the audience into a whirl.
The man known as both the world’s sexiest vegetarian and -Shark’ from his close-to-the-bone aboriginal roots looks every bit like that iconic image of Che Guevara tonight. Throughout his set he struts confidently in front of his personalized stage backdrop: the flags of Native Australians, South Africa and the environmentalist campaign boat the Sea Shepherd. Fan favourites like freedom anthem -Let Me Be’ and -Pockets Of Peace’ (which a small corner of the crowd spend a good chunk of the set asking for) are produced with the kind of on stage love in that quickly demonstrates that this newly found collaboration simply adore performing. The whole show is all smiles, both on and off stage, with several at the back of The Academy rolling joints between songs, while the lowered stage-front area twist and bounce like they’ve been musically liberated.
For the calmer moments, Rudd sits stage front or ducks in behind his didgeridoos, plucking his guitar with his fingers while it rests on his lap, and sounding every bit like Bob Dylan with a more developed live show. The energetic bursts see the crowd bob and weave and the band indulge in animalistic call and answer sessions. It’s all overlaid with a musical blend that incorporates the more soulful elements of soft rock alongside a beautiful, close to nature buzz, one that inspires without crossing the line into preachy, and brings a cheerful karmic energy to Monday night Dublin.
Photos by Sean Conroy.