This November 11, Boulder, Colorado’s Fox Theatre hosted Xavier Rudd, one of Australia’s most iconic voices, for the last American stop along his Spirit Bird Tour. Behind his custom drum set equipped with two didgeridoos, Xavier Rudd appeared like a mythic creature from an aborigine creation story. Rudd embodied the totem spirit vision as half-man and ecstatic bird with colossal tusks.
The opening act, Yeshe, combines world music and folk to tell a story of his own traveling. Based largely in African heritage, Yeshe manages to relate his own personal journey as a Germany born musician. Most recently acknowledged for ‘Peace Of Mind’ on the Roots & Wings, which was voted Number One on Billboard’s World category, Yeshe continues to cultivate a cross-cultural sound. Yeshe centers most of his songs on the instrument called a Mbira, (a wooden board on which metal keys are arranged and fitted into a resonator). As if to fend off the winter outside the doors of the Fox Theater, Yeshe provided an African rendition of the classic George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. He later returned to the stage for collaboration with Rudd. This was a heartfelt moment for both musicians, as it marked the last time they would take the stage together along the Spirit Bird Tour.
'Lioness Eyes’ opened the audience to the dexterity and sheer energy of Xavier Rudd’s music. However, the evening was a balance between socially conscious acoustic songs and the more primal rhythms of his drum and indigenous yidaki (Aboriginal word for didgeridoo). The Spirit Bird Tour is comprised mainly of songs from Rudd’s 7th studio album released this past summer, intertwined with fan favorites like ‘Come Let Go’ and ‘Food in the Belly’. In chorus with the call-and-response notable on the studio Spirit Bird, Xavier Rudd often invited the crowd to participate. The chants filled the sold-out Fox Theatre, at once ceremonial and jubilant. What struck me about Rudd as an artist was his inclusion of several instruments and his ability to play them proficiently. Many were string-based instruments, similar to a guitar (like the Weissenborn inspired lap steel) that accompany him on several albums. Local artist and special guest, Beth Preston came out on stage with Rudd. Preston was the background vocalist on Messages off the Rudd’s sixth album “Food in the Belly", released in 2005.
Beyond a multi-instrumentalist, Xavier Rudd is known as a world class surfer, animal rights activist and nature conservationist. Before closing the evening, Rudd sang the acapella, A Poem, which calls attention to the many plights facing the current condition of man and nature. Has a vocalist, Rudd exudes a comfort and range within a gritty, earthy voice that reveals a true passion for his message. He Encored with Spirit Bird which drew the crowd in to a state of euphoria. After the show he danced with the crowd, fully-man, before slipping backstage.
Read the Spirit Bird Album Review