On numerous occasions, I have been asked to describe Xavier Rudd and his music. Before answering that “simple” question, it always amazes me that there are actually people who DON’T know Xavier Rudd! How is that possible!? I digress. Xavier Rudd and his music can be summed up in ONE word: earthy, hypnotic, intoxicating, peaceful, enlightening, soothing, powerful, relaxing, mind-altering, beautiful and magical! Ok, that was more than one word… but think about it, how would YOU best explain this talented musician to a good friend? Aside from seeing this man perform live on stage, there may not be another way to truly experience this magic taking place!
On to the show…
The sun had just set a little while before Xavier’s set began at the 8th Annual McDowell Mountain Music Fest on the 30th of April 2011. A warm summer breeze drifted across the festival grounds. Didgeridoos and guitars bathed in the soft stage lights… red, blue and yellow. The Aboriginal Flag draped across a speaker at center stage. One could feel the crowd press behind them as show time quickly approached. Despite this, there was still room enough to sway your body to Xavier’s trance-like music. Everything was set. The mood was perfect. The night air of the desert was ready to be filled with sounds of delight! And with that… Xavier Rudd took the stage for the final performance of the night at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival.
Seeing Xavier Rudd perform is almost surreal. His guitar notes float through the air… and when he breathes into one of his many Didgeridoos, you can immediately feel the deep vibrations pushing against you from the stage. His voice is soft, yet powerful. No need to shout or scream… Xavier’s words wrap around you like the wings of an angel and touch your soul. However, that being said… what intrigued me the most on this night were Xavier’s eyes. Piercing, intense and yet… you could almost see a shy side to this humble man before you. It didn’t happen a lot, as Xavier played his instruments with passion and concentration, but when he did look up and over the crowd… his eyes quickly shifted from left to right, moving from person to person, as if to personally connect with you and take in the whole experience.
The crowd danced, swayed and grooved to some of Xavier Rudd’s best songs, to include Food In The Belly, Fortune Teller, Stargaze, GBA and Messages. Of all the performers that graced the stage of this festival, Xavier was much different and everyone in attendance knew it. There was something special going on here that you just had to “feel and experience” for yourself. Listening to this music is not enough. It must be felt… both on the inside and out. For me, the night was made even more special when Xavier would look out to the crowd, raise his hand to the air… or gaze upon everyone with an approving smile… one that could only be understood by those who stood before him. Once again, you could see the shy side of Xavier Rudd. It was as if he was exposing his soul to the crowd… opening up with every ounce of energy that could be mustered… pouring his heart and soul into every note, every word… every smile! After the show, Xavier took some time to meet some of his fans out in the crowd. Everyone from kids to young teenagers, men, women, both old and young, waited patiently to get a chance to meet the man who made so many smile that evening. Luckily for me, I was fortunate enough to not only shake Xavier’s hand, but also to tell him how inspiring his music is to me. How special is that!? For me, it capped off a weekend of music, friends, magic and fun!
If you have yet to listen to this man’s music, you need to do so very soon! You have no idea what you’ve been missing… the magic awaits! Special thanks go out to my dear friend, Kathy… who shared in the magic of Xavier Rudd with me. Peace to you, my friend!
Setlist: Chant, Food in the Belly, Fortune Teller, Stargaze, Love Comes and Goes, GBA, Message Stick, Messages > Land Rights, Better People, 12 Ting Ting, Let Me Be,
Encore: Solace, No Woman, No Cry, Footprint