Concerts Concerts Peace, Love, and Xavier Rudd

Peace, Love, and Xavier Rudd

Xavier Rudd at The Phoenix
Xavier Rudd
Good Old War
The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, ON
November 28, 2012

Review by: Melissa Adamson
Photos by: Lisa Kruchak

Xavier Rudd filled The Phoenix with a haze of good vibes and messages of peace and respect for the earth.

Xavier Rudd

With the array of aboriginal instruments on the stage and the indigenous flags hanging in the background, Xavier Rudd’s influences are clear. He is an activist and supporter of aboriginal rights and feels a deep connection to “the traditional roamers of this land, the people that existed thousands of years before us.” Sharing his connection with the crowd, Rudd had Ohnia Kara - a group of First Nations singers, drummers, and dancers from the Niagara Region - perform a short set before he took the stage. The group filled the Phoenix with chants, traditional dances and shared words of wisdom and knowledge about the history of Canada’s land and helped bring the crowd together.

Shortly after Ohnia Kara finished, Rudd quietly entered to take his place on his elevated stage. Surrounded by his drum kit and didgeridoos, he quickly unleashed a soul-pounding beat from both instruments. Not surprisingly, Rudd is known for his live performances. It is hard to not be impressed as you watch him rotate smoothly through an arrangement of instruments that include a guitar, slide guitar, drums, harmonica and three didgeridoos. He plays at least two ( more often three) instruments at the same time while also singing. Rudd’s music is a mix of catchy beats and writing that touches on spirituality, human rights and environmentalism, and seems to draw a crowd of equally socially conscious individuals. A haze of incense (yes, let’s call it that) filled the air along with a positive energy that was acknowledged by Rudd. “It is always a pleasure coming through Toronto. Thank you for bringing us your good energy,” he said after smiling and putting his hand over his heart in greeting.

Touring in support of Spirit Bird, a quiet and reflective album, Rudd infused energy into the songs for his live performance. He had the crowd dancing and singing with sky raised hands to the new songs and older hits like ‘Let Me Be Now‘ and ‘Follow The Sun‘. The set ended on a powerful note with a cover of “Buffalo Soldier” and a lot of jumping, stomping, clapping and chanting from the crowd.

Info: Xavier Rudd
Connect: Facebook, Twitter

Xavier Rudd at The Phoenix   Xavier Rudd at The Phoenix   Xavier Rudd at The Phoenix   Xavier Rudd at The Phoenix   Xavier Rudd at The Phoenix   Xavier Rudd at The Phoenix  

Good Old War

With the venue half full and the three members of the band lined up side by side across the front of the stage, Good Old War's set felt like a show performed by close friends in someone’s backyard on a warm summer evening.

It is their beautiful three-part harmonies and uptempo instrumentation that really caught my attention. This is a band that can easily walk into a room with just their voices and minimal instruments and sound just as good as they do on their CD.

It is really hard to not fall in love with this band. Keith Goodwin’s lead vocals are reminiscent of Adam Miller (Guster) and his enthusiasms and quirky dance moves on stage ensured that everyone in the audience was also dancing and having a good time. Dan Schwartz is an impressive guitar player who switches easily between the acoustic and electric guitar within songs. Drummer Tim Arnold drives the upbeat tempo of the songs with a constant and very contagious grin on his face.

Their set list consisted of three songs from each of their three albums and a cover of “Banana Boat Song (Day-O),” with Arnold showcasing his best Harry Belafonte impression and his powerful vocals. “Loud Love” was my favourite song of the set, as it allowed for an opportunity to enjoy vocal solos from all three members of the band.

The crowd that arrived early was noticeable impressed by the band’s upbeat set. They had great stage banter, strong musicianship and perfect harmonies; Good Old War acted as if they were headlining the concert, and I could have left after their set completely satisfied with my night.

Info: Good Old War
Connect: Facebook, Twitter