Xavier Rudd

By Wal Reid

Artist:  Xavier Rudd

Date / Venue:  Friday January 30th, The Powerstation, Auckland

Australian multi-instrumentalist Xavier Rudd is to greenie causes what Midnight Oil's outspoken frontman Peter Garrett is to social consciousness. Rudd a well-known surfer, animal rights activist and nature conservationist pulled out one spectacular show last night at Auckland's Powerstation.

Xavier's three-piece band, with South Africa's finest bassist, Uncle Tio (Lucky Dube/Inzitaba) and percussion power-house Bobby Alu casually transformed the stage into a musical journey peppered with Aboriginal influence, eco-friendly preaching and spiritual wisdom

The Mother initiated the trio's foray into the night, it's rhythmic reggae blend striking a tune with punters before Rudd's mega hit Follow The Sun got the dance floor heaving, the single went Gold in Australia in 2010, reached Platinum sales in Italy and led Xavier Rudd to his largest touring itinerary to date, covering almost every continent during a 30-month world tour

The ‘Graceland-esque' Messages followed, then ‘shit got serious' with Rudd producing a didgeridoo mixing it up with blues slide guitar and harmonica on the song Bow Down from his previous album Spirit Bird.  The band then took turns to showcase their musical nous before capitalising on the excellent people-moverCome Let Go from his earlier White Moth CD.

The thing about Xavier Rudd's music is that it's assessible, easy to get into even if you've never heard his songs before. Its rich fabric wonderfully rhythmic, allowing percussionist Bobby Alu to move in and out of rhythms seamlessly with bassist Uncle Tio almost at will, coupled with Rudd's folk sensibility and reggae tempos it's an experience that like kissing, is even better when eyes are closed. Rudd's stage presence reminded me of Johnny Clegg even down to his dancing sense

Food in the belly continued the blues dirge pattern, while the classic Rudd penned Let Me Be's crowd sing-a-long and the didgeridoo blues of To Let had the crowd on their feet dancing until the last song Footprint. After the band left the stage, it was pretty clear the audience weren't going anywhere in a hurry chanting the band to return they were rewarded with a slow reggae infused cover of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time ending on Spirit Bird.

Xavier Rudd is the master of simple songs with heart and rhythmic soul. It doesn't get any better than that.