Words by Dan Schaffel | Photos by Kate Meyer
Xavier Rudd’s make-up gig at Irving Plaza was received by attendees with open minds and hearts Monday night. The October 28th show was re-scheduled due to Super-storm Sandy, and while some fans were refunded, the Aussie-born artist acknowledged the loyalty of all who showed up to truly embrace his art. Knowing the feeling of devastation all too well himself, Rudd conveyed those emotions through his music and poetry, connecting with the crowd from the very first beat.
Any listener of his latest release, Spirit Bird could’ve predicted its first track, ‘Lioness Eye’ would be the opener. For any in the crowd not familiar with what he does, he demonstrated how his unassisted use of chimes, electric drum kit, didjeridoo, and vocal melodies are his outlet for showing how much he enjoys being alive. “Sun is up, beautiful day…” he illustrates in song, with a voice sounding alike that of Matisyahu’s blended amongst Native American spirit chanting.
Bird calls and animal noises were looped at times in the performance, assisting the fans in forgetting their physical existence in the concrete jungle and taking them to a rainforest-like serenity. Musically, he was a contemporary Dick Van Dyke – playing acoustic guitar, synth/didjeridoo looping, singing over feedback all while manually keeping the bass drum with his left foot.Â Doing it all independently, he does his work justice, not letting the need to control all elements misguide his execution.
Toward the middle of the set he indulged us in personal stories of an instrument he uses called a Yidaki. Explaining how its naturally made from termites hollowing out the body, he segued into the story of his adoption into a clan who were descendants of the originators of the Yidaki instrument. And in remembrance of the clan, Rudd played ‘Follow the Sun’, a song that one could easily close their eyes and believe was a Paul Simon tune.
The fan favorite of the night was easily ‘Let Me Be’, a harmonica-laden tune off the album Solace. The reggae bounce of some of his older music filled the tail end of the set, including a cover of ‘Buffalo Soldier’ before closing it off with a darker song off the new album, ‘3 Roads’.
Encoring with ‘Prosper’ into ‘Bow Down’ emphatically left the crowd fulfilled and updated with Xavier’s newest sounds and words. Mixing in his spiritual roots with crowd-pleasing jams is what makes his solo efforts so compelling, and what will keep us awaiting Rudd’s summer shows in 2013. His set-lists of material, both new and old, are starting to take true form and beg for inclusion on those late, humid nights of summer festival raging.
TheWaster.com | New York City