This was the definition of an infatuated crowd.
I’ll be honest, the most I knew about Ruel was from his Like A Version and an appearance on the new Hilltop Hoods record. I was a little baffled at how a 17-year-old had sold out two nights at The Forum and was willing to potentially be one of the oldest people in the room to find out why.
While there was indeed a significant underage presence at his all-ages show, luckily, I forgot about parents, so *fist pump* not the oldest and still somewhat potentially cool, maybe.
There was a significant line of eager fans down the side alley of the venue waiting to be front and centre, which meant that opening act Genesis Owusu played to a near-full venue, and play he did. His energetic set moved from hip hop to funk and electro with a revved-up Gonjasufi vibe on the production. With a running narrative throughout his set of how the audience could become “goons” the set exploded for the track ‘WUTD’ as Owusu kept the crowd bouncing while he delivered his unique mash of styles, which are an exciting new variation for the Australian hip hop scene.
Here’s a prediction: one day Ruel’s live videos will be nearly as unusable as any footage of The Beatles due to the deafening screams of female teenagers. This was one of those nights, and there was barely a moment where every single word that Ruel sang wasn’t sung back at him with significant volume by the crowd.
Opening with ‘Don’t Tell Me’, the hype was justified immediately as there is no doubt Ruel has one of the finest young voices in Australia at the moment. Backed by a phenomenal band, his soul-laced pop is the kind of music you probably want your teenage kids listening to. It has substance and depth which, when coupled with such talented execution (I can’t stress enough how good Ruel’s band and backup singers are), it makes for a high-quality and enjoyable musical experience.
The set peaked with ‘Golden Years’ and a new smooth soul track called ‘Real Thing’, right before Ruel picked up a guitar for his popular Jack Garrett Like A Version cover. The aforementioned Hilltop Hoods feature, ‘Fire & Grace’, made an appearance with a shortened, piano rendition before the band really got to flex their skills with a round of solos capped by an energetic drum solo. The most significant singalong of the night went to ‘Dazed & Confused’ and the main set closer ‘Younger’.
Skipping an encore was not an option based on the level of screaming, and Ruel delivered, via his minion-like toxicity suit wearing crew. The show closed on ‘Painkiller’, the new track whose name doubles as the title of the tour, and a host of folks out the front on pickup/curfew duty. We are witnessing the rise of Ruel, expect to hear and see much more of this talented young singer.
Highlight: The skills on display from each band member.
Lowlight: The rubbish left in the alley from those who lined up, not cool people.
Crowd favourite: Apparently, every single word or breath that came out of Ruel.