The Corner Hotel was fortunate enough to welcome some young talent into its band room at the end of last week; the ceiling suspending multiple fluorescent light tubes giving the atmosphere quite a futuristic twist to the traditional spotlights and strobes.
It was all in place for Ruel, the 15-year-old Sydney based singer-songwriter who has delivered an eclectic take on the alternative pop and RnB sound. Having almost clocked 15 million streams on his featured single “Don’t Tell Me”, this young man is showing some real talent for his age.
First on the night was KIAN, a Melbourne based singer/songwriter with a unique voice. Having recently won the Triple J Unearthed competition, Ruel decided to take him on his tour to showcase his abilities as an emerging artist. He had a sound which was hard to characterise, a mix of alternative pop and hip-hop, you could see that young KIAN has also been inspired by many genre-blurring artists.
His biggest single to date “Waiting” has over four million streams and counting. I have to say you could tell there were nerves affecting his performance, but coming straight out of high school right onto an audience the size of Ruel’s fanbase is a huge achievement in itself. I’m excited to see how his live experience evolves.
Dylan Joel was up next. Also a Melbourne based artist, he gave his unique take on acoustic hip-hop through his bluesy vocal delivery and on-stage showmanship. The “Run To The River” singer has collected over a million streams on that single alone, which is not surprising to say as it translated very well into a live experience.
Bringing out his other singles such as “Hola, Hola” and “Done Witchu”, Dylan Joel had no problem navigating his way on stage to entertain the audience. In the middle of the performance, he took the chance to perform a short Hip Hop dance number. Upon first glance, the dancing was questionable, but from the woo’s and cheers from the audience they found the routine to be quite an unexpected delight.
Joel then brought back his triple j like a version cover of “You Got A Friend In Me”. With a heavy soul and rap influence on the song, I found his version to be a refreshingly unique spin on the original. Then, to close the performance of the song, he gathered his band members to sit close to the front barriers of the stage to give the crowd a more intimate experience.
As a support act, Dylan Joel really gave it his all to show who he was as a performer, whilst entertaining the crowd to warm up for the first Melbourne show of Ruel’s Australian tour.
The interval had passed and Ruel’s microphone stand stood tall as the crowd anticipated his arrival onto the Corner Hotel stage. Screaming girls roared at his presence as Ruel began his set with “Golden Years”, the M-Phazes track which brought his face into the music industry. His raspy, masculine and powerful voice carried in waves throughout the crowds. Hearing his voice in person as opposed to the speakers of my MacBook made for a more memorable, rewarding and astonishing experience.
With the band sitting deep backstage, Ruel had the spotlight. “Dazed and Confused” was the next to wow the audience. With over 12 million streams online, he graced the stage with his lucid like dance moves and youthful spirit. Dancing around the stage to the rhythm of the track, with no disturbance in the delivery of his silky smooth vocals.
Ruel then took the time to dedicate a song to a close friend who recently lost his battle with mental illness, Luke Liang. He took a stool and perched it onto the top of the stage, singing the words “All the words left unsaid, hanging over my head”. It was a vulnerable moment in his set, showing the crowd the more sensitive side to his youth and not being afraid to confront the audience with heavy topics, contrasting from the more lighter subjects of his songs.
Nearing the end, Ruel debuted the live version of his hit single “Don’t Tell Me”. Having lowered the key of the song, it still didn’t fail to make the audience sing back every word to the gospel-like piano ballad. He then asked the audience to sing the chorus of his song through a well-coordinated call and response. Showcasing himself as good a singer as he is a stage performer, the routine was celebrated by the crowd as the concluded the song and walked off stage, letting the band showcase themselves till their exit.
But knowingly he returned to close the night with his latest hit single “Younger” off his debut EP Ready. A track which showcases Ruel’s ability to reflect his youthful troubles into song and giving it a catchy, soul-pop influence.
Having followed Ruel since he released “Don’t Tell Me”, I’m quite impressed by the progression of his career. From the young 12-year-old boy to the now 15-year-old young man, Ruel hasn’t fallen victim to the industry’s big machine and has kept his identity and unique sound at the forefront of everything he does, delivering a performance to match.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Ruel is continuing his tour with the dates below. The reviewer attended the show at the Corner Hotel on 28th September 2018.
THU 04 OCT THE GOV ADELAIDE, SA (LIC ALL AGES) with Special Guest Dylan Joel
FRI 05 OCT 256 WICKHAM BRISBANE, QLD (LIC ALL AGES) with Special Guest Dylan Joel
WED 10 OCT ENMORE THEATRE SYDNEY, NSW (LIC ALL AGES) with Special Guests Dylan Joel & KIAN