LIVE REVIEW: Ruel – Aware Super Theatre

Ruel has officially entered arena pop star status. The breakthrough artist has just conducted his biggest headlining tour of Australia to-date in celebration of his debut album “4TH WALL”, which ended with a hometown date at Aware Super Theatre in Sydney. The theatrical affair was his continued experimentation into the pop world with a show that was equally visually and sonically entertaining. 

With the arena at near capacity, the high pitched screams began as the lights dimmed, the curtain dropped, and the massive LED screen introduced the audience into the world he’s created for this record. With footage of Ruel opening a door in the middle of the sky, he fell through accompanied by big lights flashing before being revealed to be laying on the floor at the top of the stage. Getting up off the ground, he kicked off the show with recent album singles “GO ON WITHOUT ME”, “GROWING UP IS _____” and “YOU AGAINST YOURSELF”. Thanking the crowd for coming out to see him, he provided a little throwback with “Dazed & Confused” and “Face To Face”, which offered huge singalongs from the very excited crowd. Explaining that the show was going to be special as it was his hometown show, he decided to play a song he’s never performed live before, which was “IF AND/OR WHEN”. And later he performed another rare live track with “WISH I HAD YOU”, which was only performed once before in Perth. 

Very early on into the set it became obvious that this show was going to be a larger-than-life styled production. It was a big pop show with an extravagant stage set-up including a catwalk, a giant tree, leaf confetti, and slick costumes for his band and dancers. When an old phone began to ring, he walked across the stage to answer it and sang “MUST BE NICE” into the receiver. Later snow started falling during “LIE”, inflatable balls were thrown into the crowd during “Painkiller”, and confetti fell during “END SCENE”. It was as if this show was half a pop concert, and half a theatre production. There were moments that were reminiscent of David Byrne, while other moments were reminiscent of The 1975. There was always something to watch and be fascinated with away from the music. And then the live arrangements were also incredibly well put together and had everyone in awe of the level of performance he delivered, with the SG Lewis collaboration ‘Flames” even offering the biggest encouraged jumping of the night. 

With the credits rolling on the big LED screen, masked crew members took to the stage to start brushing leaves off the set. As the credits finished, Ruel took off his mask to reveal himself as one of the cleaners before rolling into the final song of the night, “I DON’T WANNA BE LIKE YOU”. Thanking the crowd again for making this show very special to him, he waved to the crowd before jumping off the set and back into the video world. 

This show was a massive step up from anything he has ever done before. It cemented him in the world of arena headliners not just as a theatrical performer, but also as a powerhouse musician. The whole time you were watching the show you knew you were witnessing someone very special, and I would go back and watch that show all over again.

Photo credit: Markus Ravik