LIVE REVIEW: The Rubens

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The Rubens live at The Forum Wednesday 1st March
Media passes provided by publicists
Words by Harry Boucher

Starting a set a full two hours before the headline artist is no easy task, but under The Forum’s beautiful faux-night-sky Melbourne’s own Kira Puru was undeterred. Performing to an intimate yet growing crowd, Puru gifted her ‘new friends’ with poppy up-beat tunes and a healthy helping of ground shaking bass. As the crowd’s interest grew with each passing track I found myself reminded of the well-known, soulful voice of Meg Mac.

‘Puru gifted her ‘new friends’ with poppy up-beat tunes and a healthy helping of ground shaking bass’

When the familiar bass line of ‘Tension’ began to play it sparked an excited buzz in the atmosphere as many, myself included, had a wave of ‘I know this song!’ Existing fans had been eagerly awaiting her undoubtedly biggest hit. Before exiting the stage Puru teased that we may not have seen the last of her yet. Whilst it was a clear hint that she would be performing again later in the night, her message was fitting as an extremely talented vocalist on track for big things.

Taking the reins from Peru was Sydney-sider Joyride. Standing over 6ft, Joyride’s height is nothing compared to the size of his character as he effortlessly commanded attention on stage. Talking between songs about the importance of happiness, reminding everyone to stay safe, and making jokes at the expense of ‘creepy dudes’ that come to gigs solely to pick up, Joyride created an atmosphere of pure wholesomeness.

With the help of band mates HANDSOME and SJ Dynasty, Joyride entertained the crowd with conviction and love. The three seemed to have an intense chemistry as they performed together. In addition to playing new tracks such as ‘Blue Batmans’ and HANDSOME’s own single ‘Late Night Ball Game’, Joyride whipped out a twinkly, electronic cover of ‘Twilight Driving’ by Methyl Ethyl. The track started stripped back and before building to a crescendo.

With one song remaining, Joyride mused to the audience ‘What song could it possibly be?’ before launching into a very well received ‘Aunty Tracey’s Cookies’. Joyride is a pure and passionate crowd-pleaser and seeing him perform live was like one big long hug.

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After a thirty-minute wait that had left the crowd increasingly eager, The Rubens entered the stage. Instantly earning a roar that filled the venue. Without wasting any time, they dived straight into a new song. This was followed by crowd favourites ‘Cut Me Loose’ and ‘Hold Me Back’. The much slower ‘Bitter End’ was a hypnotic sway fest, leaving the entire crowd in a trance.

Breaking that trance was another new track, after which front man Sam Margin asked the crowd if they were ready for a cover. At the audiences eagerness Margin then joked that the crowd must be sick of their music already. Covering Chance The Rapper’s ‘Same Drugs’, The Rubens sounded so natural it would be forgivable to think that it was an original song, with Margin displaying just how vocally talented he is.

‘The much slower ‘Bitter End’ was a hypnotic sway fest, leaving the entire crowd in a trance’

Not only a talented vocalist and musician, he is a true rock star front-man, who onstage exudes an air of arrogance that is more entertaining than unlikable. When performing he not only owns the stage, he owns the venue, as was evident when he nonchalantly left the stage and entered the crowd, continuing the performance without missing a single note.

The vast majority of those around me recognised the intro to ‘The Day You Went Away’ well before I did, filling The Forum with the rhythmic pounding of feet on the floor. The sense of atmosphere the band created was incredible, and the crowd spurred the boys on, matching their energy. Though surely planned, when The Rubens played a three or more minute intro to their classic ‘My Gun’, it felt natural and spontaneous, as if all band members were lost in the moment.

Kira Puru returned on stage to sing a duet with Margin, performing the final song of the new album. The song itself was very catchy, but the real standout was the killer final line that hits you like a blow to the guts and will be in your head for days, I guarantee it.

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Again utilising their support acts, The Rubens had Joyride return on stage to perform another cover together. This time also recruiting an audience member to tell a joke to their fellow crowd members and have a dance on stage (you killed it Tamara from Ferntree Gully).

Huge numbers ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Million Man’ rounded out the set and The Rubens departed the stage, fooling no one. The crowd was ravenous for more, and the foot stamping from earlier returned more fervently than ever. Another roar signalled The Rubens had returned to play two final songs: ‘Lay It Down’ and ‘Hoops’.

The Rubens did not disappoint their fans, pumping energy into their performance as well as hanging back after the show to meet those willing to wait in a line that grew very long, very quickly. Seeing The Rubens live is a must, and quite frankly, they will ‘never get back too soon’.