Live Review: Thundamentals + Ziggy Ramo + Billy Davis & The Good Lords + Jesswar – The Forum, Melbourne (10.11.18)

Thundamentals were here to not just bring the music over the weekend, but support it to, as the hip-hop trio hailing from the Blue Mountains – Tuka, Jeswon and Morgs – brought along Australian hip-hop legends of the future to open the celebrations of their I Love Songs album at The Forum in Melbourne.

The explosive hip-hop of Jesswar kicked off the memorable evening, as her unapologetic rapping rocked the room. Jesswar’s releases were on display and, while her set was shortly falling in at under thirty minutes, it was able to build an empowering amount of energy to the growing crowd. “WOMAN’S WORLD 2.0” and “Savage” were the high-profile inclusions to Jesswar’s set, and created a perfect example of what to expect from her in the future.

The crowd was taken with Billy Davis & The Good Lords, as their funk, hip-hop and jazz fusion built a new dimension into the sounds of modern hip-hop. Billy Davis was at the centre of the group, his keyboard and production skills highlighting the rapping of his group’s front man Jordan Dennis, as the cool vibes of The Good Lord’s fusion sounds floated underneath.

Their set was also unfortunately short, having to compensate for such a long list of artists, but much like Jesswar before them, the Good Lords made the most of the opportunity as each member had their time to shine. The groups favourites were put out to the crowd, building some confidence into their brand as tracks such as “No Longer Lovers”, “Ball & Chain” and “Goldfish” featured.

Ziggy Ramo took the place of the main opener for the Melbourne leg of the tour. His passionate rap made a real impact on the crowd, but also managed to keep it light with some dancier numbers focusing on love.

His track “April 25th” could be considered an impassioned appeal to white Australians to take more care with black Australian history, using his lyrics to face them with the confronting truths about how Aboriginal Australians are treated versus the idolisation of the ANZACs; a poignant reminder on the eve of Remembrance Day.

Ziggy finished his set on “A to Z”. The dancey rap number about acceptance and doing what you love put the pump back into the room, as Ziggy donned a composite flag of the Aboriginal nation and the pride flag showing his affirmation with the people under those flags.

The headline set from Thundamentals could easily have been considered more than just a performance, but a theatrical experience as Tuka, Jeswon and DJ Morgs brought along a full-scale band to build a greater experience for the crowd.

Their set was monolithic, with twenty one songs spanning the entire (ten year) period of their career, celebrating both their new album I Love Songs and a decade of the Thundakat. Immediately representing the new album, Tuka came out with a red spray can and sprayed the “I Love Songs” logo onto the album art up on stage. This quickly led into “All I See Is Music”, the leading song off of the groups new album. “21 Grams” and “Never Say Never” rounded up the opening tracks, as the highlights rolled in quickly.

“Smiles” was done in the fashion of an acoustic campfire sing-a-long as Tuka, Jeswon, their backup singers and guitarist sat on chairs as they worked through the song. Complementing Triple J on their contribution to their journey as musicians led them into a musical highlight of the night; Matt Corby’s Brother”, originally done as Thundamentals’ “Like A Version” back in 2012. Putting their own spin on the much loved track, “Brother” displayed that the talent ran deep through the Thundamentals outfit, as they used Corby’s track to rock the Forum.

There’s a magic in the Thundamentals’ approach to music and their fan base, opting to have live performances where every person attending is a participant. Saturday was a perfect example of this, with both Tuka and Jeswon actively drawing the crowd in, preaching love, respect and kindness; each one a powerful theme running through the heart of the I Love Songs album. Telling the crowd to follow their passions, the theme ran through “Quit Your Job”, “Payroll” and “Deja Vu”, much to the rapturous applause of the crowd.

While the Thundamentals’ had a planned encore, it wasn’t jarring as some have come to be in the modern music-scape, as the duo; Tuka and Jeswon came out donning a new wardrobe and working through some of the fan favourites. “Sally”, a defining track from the group’s previous album Everyone We Know, opened the last hurrah, as well as over one thousand people joined in for the famous chorus hook “Everybody knows that Sally can’t dance”. The fun trickled through “Something I Said”, before the on-stage crew closed down the Forum with “True Love”, ending the night on a common theme.

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Thundamentals new album I Love Songs is out now. The band continue their tour around the country with the below dates. For more details head to the band’s official website.

Sat 17th Nov – Spilt Milk Festival – Canberra, ACT
Fri 23rd Nov – The Tivoli – Brisbane, QLD
Fri 30th Nov – Hobart – The Goods Shed, TAS
Sat 1st Dec – Enmore Theatre – Sydney, NSW
Fri 7th Dec – HQ – Adelaide, SA
Sat 8th Dec – Fremantle Arts – Fremantle, WA

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