IT'S GRAND THEFT AUDIO
The Rubens @ Sydney Opera House, Sydney NSW Australia 03/03/2018 written by Brendan Lewis.
Photos by Prudence Upton.
All rise for the case of The Rubens vs the people. The Rubens are being charged with grand theft audio, stealing air-play time with their infectious new hit ‘Million Man’, with a conspiracy to further take over the music industry with their highly-anticipated third studio album in the near future. These rock ’n’ soul bad-boys have already jumped through the Hoops of the system once before, taking over large-scale venues with their criminally-good rock ’n’ soul shows, waging epic musical Battles, that made the musical legal-system look like The Fool. And if that’s not enough crime under ones’ belt, have also stolen not just precious air-play time and stream counts, but peoples hearts all over the world.
Let’s see if the night is really on their side…
The lights go down and some appropriate rock music plays while the band walk on stage for their opening statement. This song is one of the songs off the bands’ upcoming album titled ‘Teeth’ which we’ve previously never heard, it starts off with lead singer/bad-boy Sam on acoustic guitar under a spotlight before the rest of the band join in. Even when the rest of the band accompany Sam as his raw passionate vocals echo perfectly in the acoustics of this hall atop the rest of the bands perfectly-mixed sound, the beat is steady and un-climactic which is strange for an opening song, as it needs to grab peoples’ attention and excitement, and I can hear the rest of the band playing, but where are they? BAM! Just like the prosecutor calling a surprise witness that you didn’t see coming (literally for me), the curtain behind Sam now drops revealing the rest of the band and the stage lighting as the song makes a strong up-beat appeal to the absence of energy that it once had, filled with dual layer vocal harmonies. Now this definitely grabbed my attention, and even more-so as my guard was down and didn’t expect the songs’ essence to elevate so dramatically!
Sam now addresses us, the jury, before trying to sway us with two crowd favourites ‘Cut Me Loose’ and ‘Hold Me Back’. The energy is lifted exceedingly with ‘Cut Me Loose’s up beat rock grooves which Sam cuts loose and moves around the front of the stage in a convincing testimony of rockin’ dance grooves straight from the soul. Now as the jury (audience) are all getting caught up in this musical testimony, Sam jumps off the stage and sings to us here at the front, spiking the excitement, making the audience all rise in protest of excitement, before Sam returns to the stand to reunite with the rest of the band for the conclusion of the song. That strong-case of energy and the songs’ smooth organ melodies with Sam raising the energy even more, near the end is what I would’ve expected in the opening song, but given this is a confession of new material yet to come, th
‘Hold Me Back’ opens it’s statement with it’s catchy blues/jazz sounding piano riff and continues the high energy, which again makes the crowd all rise and bustin’ a move as Sam continues to steal the spotlight with his admittedly sexy dance grooves, which I say in a totally manly way, while he puts all his heart and soul into nailing all his vocals. While Sam feeds off the juries positivity, singing with his clear seductive voice (again, said in a totally manly way) and in interpretive body gestures/arm waves, I’m convinced of the bands true talent with stand out bass lines and guitar riffs. In my experience, the bassist is often the most expendable member of a band as a lot of the time is just simple and subtle, yet William on bass objects to this with his walking bass lines and changing patterns that really catch my attention, and along with Zaac’s ever changing guitar riffs and harmonies, is a pretty dam convincing case of musical justice!
“It’s amazing to be here!” Sam tells us (not a usual response to being on trial), and tells us the next testimony is a new piece of evidence for fans titled ‘Go On’ which is followed by ‘Best We Got’ and ‘Bitter End’ (gotta be prepared for any outcome I guess). All three songs follow suit as previous appeals, with crystal clear sound, complimenting lighting like a supporting document to the case, confessions of seductive grooves and crisp-sexy vocals (in a totally manly way). ‘Best We Got’ starts with a captivating piano intro, that’s followed up with the song moving to a cinematic vibe with a big-bad walking/strutting bass line like a mafia gangster, asserting power to all who witness. (not helping your case of innocence guys). What does help their case however, is Sam’s honest raw vocals and alluring dance moves. Judging by the cheer from the jury, the verdict is looking positive. The musical vibe is then brought right down to a calming, raw soul feel with a steady beat and Sam proving his wide vocal range and vocal control.
For the rest of this trial (because no one likes a drawn out court hearing) we witness songs like new love song featuring Kira Piru, ‘Never Ever’ my personal favourite ‘My Gun’ which is sneakily flowed seamlessly from the previous song, raising the hype to exciting levels. ‘The Seed’ which Sam calls supporting artist Joyride to the stand to accompany him, sprucing the energy level in the hall right up - working together perfectly, differing musical vibes to raise and lower the energy at strategic intervals with changes from up-beat rock outlaws like ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Night Is On My Side’, to the steady-beat smooth-criminal soul to honest confessions of the heart, all of which, the audience rise in dance, return to their seats, then up again as if in an actual court room. The way the band all work together like supporting alibis or an accessory to Sam’s criminally-awesome voice yet all separately making strong cases that stand out and are evident of experience, the way Sam engages his audience in a down-to-earth manner so convincingly and honestly with humour, including paying dedication to the Mardi Gras taking place tonight (bribing the jury with crowd pleasing sweet-talk ain’t gonna win you the case sweet-heart!), the way the sound is perfectly resonated throughout this architecturally remarkable building and the energy the whole band put into thei
The band now thank us, and give us one more piece of evidence before a quick recess, and then their closing statement. This song, new assault of rock ’n’ soul, new single ‘Million Man’. This song gets the jury up on their feet one last time… before the inevitable encore, and yes, this song is presented perfectly and entices even me to stand up and protest with my own moves, but seriously, if my shoddy sight sees right, the hilariously daggy alleged dance moves that the girls behind me are busting out should be illegal in a setting as classy as this!
After a quick recess, the band take to the stand once more for their closing statements, ‘Lay It Down’ and finally, because we never saw this being the final appeal, career defining colossal hit ‘Hoops’. ‘Hoops’ is such an easy to love track and even more so live, with Sam’s raw emotive voice of powerful passion, with the whole crowd singing along in harmonious echo and Sam’s sexy dance moves drawing even my attention, and finishes the show with justice!
Several counts of high quality musical performance, five counts of incredible team-work, 21 counts of well-flowed contrasting songs! I find The Rubens, GUILTY….. yet somehow, acquitted of all charges on the condition they continue to create timeless hits, and take over the world with memorable performances like tonights’! Because we all know the legal system makes sense like this!