Xavier Rudd is chilling on the beach at Currumbin in Queensland on the day we talk, enjoying some well-earned time off.
He’s happy to be home. There’s no question for him, Australia is home.
“Whenever I leave [on tour], there’s always a part of me that doesn’t come,” he says. “I am most whole when I’m home. I never thought about living anywhere else.”
From June 1 to July 7 he played 28 gigs in North America. He’s got 25 days off before resuming with a run of Australian shows, including the Civic Theatre in Newcastle on Sunday, August 5. From early September he digs in for a run of 30 shows across Europe.
Rudd is touring on the back of his ninth studio album, Storm Boy, released in May. It’s easy to call it more of the same we’ve come to expect from this free-spirited 40-year-old – chilled reggae folk rock with oodles of positivity. Nothing wrong with that – he’s got a dedicated global following.
The musicianship of Rudd and his many musical partners is mesmerising, there’s no pretending when it comes to the haunting as well as happy riffs and beats they drive.
And man, does it play well live.
Blond and barefoot, muscular and tanned, with a beaming smile. That’s XR.
Turn the mirror on the crowd and you will see a reflection of that bundle of power.
Rudd knows it, and he knows why the come to see him perform. When he last played the Civic in Newcastle in 2015 I described it as “ a mind-enlightening mantra”.
“There is so much energy,” he says of his live show. “It’s definitely an energy exchange. It is some kind of church of for me. A celebration of good vibrations. An acceptance of ‘one people’, of positive change for a better world.
“It’s energetic, uplifting. Not only for the audience, but for us. … everybody’s involved. Everybody bringing their spirit and stuff, letting it go, flying around the room.
“It’s an important ceremony for people and for us. That’s the reason we do it.”
The new album includes serious songs, carrying messages of empowerment. Like Walk Away, which starts with the line, I've seen people holding on to nothing; Broken dreams and broken chords.
Rudd explains it: “Everyone has something in their life they need to let go of that’s not serving them. Our fears, our ego, play a large role in the decisions we make and the things that carve our journey, or delay our journey.”
Times Like These, the last cut on the album, is part prayer, part anthem, a message of belief in the healing power of humans.
There is so much energy. It’s definitely an energy exchange. It is some kind of church of for me. A celebration of good vibrations.- Xavier Rudd talking about his live show
The didgeridoo is still there on the album, a part of Rudd’s signature sound. He’s carrying nine on tour. “It’s pretty impactful, pretty powerful,” he says about the didge.
“It’s more than an instrument. It’s a spirit. It’s got a huge vibration.”
There’s that positivity again. He’s optimistic about the world he sees. “A lot of people in different places are waking up to change for a better world,” he says, “wanting to make changes, to be better. Which is cool.”
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