Originally published in The Edge
For the first night of RÜFÜS’ sold-out stint at Westminster’s Heaven, the best spot in the house belonged to no human. Above the revellers, who clambered onto each others’ shoulders and bobbed incandescently through every repeating second, sat a sole beach ball, a symbol of the Sydney trio’s most fitting climate and their audience’s geographical cravings. Through selections from homeland chart-toppers Atlas and January’s Bloom, cemented by choruses striving for yet somehow eluding irksomeness by repetition, blinding lights and lyrical idylls brought an essence of their Instagram feed to an arched cavern hidden beneath London’s alleged spring.
In recordings, it is tempting to feel that RÜFÜS tracks are one and the same. Their niche, dance music of resplendent keyboard melodies with single line refrains that establish themselves by the halfway point, can just as easily slide into a DJ’s mix or enthrall an 1,100-strong crowd when performed almost wholly live. Singer Tyrone Lindqvist used drum interludes from James Hunt, which carried inferences of jazz and heavy rock, to switch between guitar and keyboard – the former largely an aesthetic aid that could have done with an audio boost; the latter a duty shared with Jon George, who spent Lindqvist’s final link fashioning the setlist into a meticulous paper aeroplane that subsequently boomeranged back into the band.
New material from Bloom displayed the trio at their most refined, and the body of the set was bookended by the same tracks as the record. Exuberant cowbell work to introduce ‘Brighter’ led into ‘Sundream,’ a transition perhaps indistinguishable to the uninitiated without the roar that followed the twinkle of the latter’s icing. Even deeper cuts like ‘Until The Sun Needs To Rise’ were recited flawlessly by many as Lindqvist roamed, sporting a reversed cap despite the quintessential weather he so obviously joked about.
Alas, a mistimed endeavour of mine for some mid-show refreshment happened to last precisely one ‘Innerbloom,’ a ten-minute rendezvous away from the vapid solar worship that suitably comes through as a progressive gem. Fortunately, the likes of recent singles ‘Say A Prayer For Me’ and ‘Like An Animal’ both came across more expansive than their recorded incarnations, and the inclusion of Eurythmics nod ‘Tonight’ and assertive funk number ‘Be With You’ provided sufficient variation. An encore of old and new – a reworked ‘Take Me’ and the ARIA Best Dance Release of 2015 ‘You Were Right’ – concluded with a live cowbell dabble from Lindqvist and an audience trickling into the night with beamed faces.
A peril of publishing set times before a gig is that many punters, even for a sold-out show like this one, will not appear until the main event commences. Thus, for supporting performer Elderbrook, only a scattered few were in position for a Woodkid-esque blend of angsty electronica and embittered vocals. To the bronzed and tipsy sunset euphoria of RÜFÜS, Elderbrook represented the mournful and crushing hangover that inevitably follows.
Eventually chatter and passing of balloons began to subside, allowing Alexander Kotz and his band to gain a modicum of appreciation for his 2014 Black Butter release ‘How Many Times’ and its refrain of “you didn’t find what you set out to”. New track ‘Cinnamon’ maintained an essence of life over a Yotto-helmed hour of deep house before RÜFÜS emerged, but its juxtaposition with the already-perched beach ball was overbearing. Antipodean vibrance had beckoned, and thankfully its inherent energy remained undampened.