Bliss N Eso had the crowd in their hand from start to finish when they took over The Forum

Australian hip hop legends Bliss N Eso provided Melbourne with spectacular entertainment when they hit up the Forum Theatre for back-to-back sold-out shows.

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Andrew Bibby

Formed in Sydney at the turn of the century, Bliss N Eso have made their mark as one of Australia's most loved and original hip hop acts. DJ Izm consistently creates melodious, catchy soundscapes as a foundation, while MCs Jonathan Notley (Bliss) and Max MacKinnon (Eso) bring smooth, captivating flow and rhymes.
It shouldn’t come as much surprise that Bliss N Eso delivered on the high standard of performance set by their studio work, though it was surprising that they managed to curate their live show to be quite so engaging. Watching a show at the Forum already tends to feel like partying at the Matrix universe's Zion, but Bliss N Eso took this to another level with their crowd engagement and stage play.
The trio were supported by four additional live members, including a drummer, two backing vocalists and a fellow managing to multi-task playing keys and guitar. Having a full ensemble on-board added to the volume of the performance, both audibly and visually. A brief intermission-of-sorts was padded out nicely by a solo-off between DJ Izm and the drummer. Equally, the MCs covered for DJ Izm breaking and having to replace a turntable stylus. Little points like these demonstrated the aptitude for live performances that Bliss N Eso possess.
The production was certainly noteworthy. Almost overwhelming at some stages, the syncronisation of the lights with the music added to the visual spectacle of the performance and sustained the concert's atmosphere. The sound mixing was on-point throughout the evening – someone really ought to give the sound engineer a pat on the back.
The concert was set as a promotion of Bliss N Eso's latest album, Off the Grid – released earlier this year. Naturally, the set list was mostly comprised of songs off this record, though there was a smattering of hits from the rest of the trio's discography featured throughout.
From even a cursory look at the attendees, the set list evidently hit its mark. Bliss N Eso had the crowd in their hand from start to finish, with never a dull moment.
Highlight: MCs Bliss and Eso calling out anyone causing fights in the mosh.
Lowlight: The ratio of drinks going onto patrons versus down the gullet consistently increased throughout the concert.
Crowd favourite: Dopamine.
Photo by Andrew Holliday