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Xavier Rudd: A Thousand Men at Once

November 29, 2012

Wind -whipped, we walk down Sherbourne St. toward The Phoenix, where clusters of chilly smokers welcome our arrival.

Following the winding pathways to the stage, we shuffle and shift to find views that suit our respective heights. Now, we are still.

Our lateness lands us in the pre-vocal moments of a performance by Ohnia:kara and the Perpetual Peace Project – groups of First Nations artists from the Niagara Region. They speak, at first, telling of oneness, of the connection that we all have to one another and to the earth. They remind us what draws us to this music and they remind us to respect it.

Then, they sing. They release the rhythm and the strength of their harmonic voices, their drum beats and their elegant, spinning dance. They take us from this city and place us deeper into the earth, somewhere separate, somewhere closer to old.

This is the space Xavier enters. Hair pulled back, t-shirt clad and smiling. His didgeridoos have been waiting, promising the rumbling, vibrating tones we crave. He begins. One sound, at first- one layer to grab us. He builds: two didgeridoos, the stroke of chimes, a beat, a bird call, a guitar; he is a thousand men at once. He is superhuman. Then, he sings. Finally, cracking the air with the purity of his sound – we are struck with relief: he does sound this way. I stand in this joyful stupor, the beat dragging my chest forward, pushing it back. I am moved.

This set is full of bird sounds and gratitude for the earth, interspersed with calls to the crowd, “How you feelin’ Tor-on-to?”

We’re feelin’ good.

The crowd sings along to songs we know, claps and dances to new songs from Sprit Bird. His energy is endless. The room grows hotter, bodies sweat, layers drop, smoke wafts overhead. This concert hall is summertime, thick with release (of sweat, of inhibition, of thought); this is a place of feeling. Come, Let Go.

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