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Xavier Rudd: Behind the One-Man Band

By Michelle Szeto and Kym Chambers

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A large tarp on stage covers Xavier Rudd's instruments, fans roared as it is removed to unveil guitars, shakers, didgeridoos, Weissenborn slide guitars, tongue drums, stomp boxes, djembes, harmonica, ankle bells, and slide banjo, all of course, to be played by one man.


The challenge for any seasoned performer is their ability to bring forth his/her  audience's attention, and to make all other distractions unimportant in that moment. And, if any one can do it, Xavier Rudd can.

Unlike many concerts, the crowd buzzed with excitement, but the buzz was different; it was a gentle and patient stir among the crowd which climaxed the moment that Xavier Rudd ever so casually strolled on stage. Alongside him were two friends, one of which blessed the room with an Aboriginal prayer, and the other donned an indigenous tribal garment to play the didgeridoo. Both helped to set a positive and spiritual tone for the remainder of the evening. Xavier Rudd's live shows have a style all it's own, one that truly taps into the deep rooted spiritual side of the music that he so lovingly creates and shares it is not solely about him. His shows are about the collective experience for everyone in the room and drawing them into the humble inspirations which he draws from his homeland, his respect for humanity, nature and above all music.


To list the many factors which make Xavier Rudd a phenomenal performer would simply be impossible. His remarkable ability to fuse tribal sounds like the djembe or the didgeridoo with more folky sounds like the harmonica and the lap steel are at the same time is a wonder to watch and hear. The sincerity and tenderness of his voice extends from his love for life. This self-taught multi-instrumentalist has undoubtedly spent years up on years tweaking and finessing everything from his unconventional instrumentation, to his passionate lyricism that above all things is honest in it's message and conscious in it's intent. A blatant call for peace among all things is prominent in this activist-singer-songwriter, and the audience has no option but to be completely captivated by his pleas.  Xavier Rudd uses his undeniable stage presence to inspire his audience to move their bodies and dance, and the use their voices and sing out lyrics that reflect his inherent concern for our environment and our respect for one another.


The opportunity to see Xavier Rudd perform is one of those rare experiences  which not only excites the senses but nourishes our need to be reminded, every so often, the importance of creativity, spirituality and unity.

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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