Pure pandemonium took over the Sydney Opera House on Thursday when sixteen-year-old pop protégé Ruel graced the stage. The electricity of nervous girls was reminiscent of the One Direction Up All Night concert tour when the boy band first blessed Australian shores. Needless to say, Ruel’s trajectory is looking to be a similar superstardom with this much hype before he’s even released a debut album.
Opening the sold-out night was Genesis Owusu, a talented rapper hailing from Canberra. The twenty-year-old performs a style he calls ‘21st Century punk-jazz’ with groovy popping bass lines and a lazy backbeat, particularly notable in his track “Wit’ Tha Team”. His set was broken up with a robotic female voice delivering public service announcements to become a member of the Genesis club, and by the end had everyone enlisted. Genesis also brought along a squad of friends in black ski masks to back up his Childish Gambino x Michael Jackson-esque dance moves and the girls were already going wild! With the ruckus he caused, it seemed unimaginable as to what would happen when Ruel appeared.
And we quickly found out with ear-piercing screams that physically made you shrink; it was that intense. The stage transformed into an industrial platform and a green light show that silhouetted the band. Rising up from the middle in a yellow jumpsuit straight out of his “Painkiller” videoclip was the one and only Ruel. He stripped down into his ‘normal clothes’ and started the night with jazzier rearrangement of “Don’t Tell Me”, and the whole crowd was quickly on their feet.
He rolled straight into “Golden Years” and then “Not Thinkin’ Bout You” which featured a rap verse from Genesis, and damn it was a strong start. But it did not stop there! With three major songs out of the way, how was he going to fill out the set? Well, he then teased a new track from his upcoming EP called, “Real Thing”, which was a bit more slow-paced R&B vibe, and also treated his fans to his Like A Version cover of Jack Garratt’s “Weathered”, turning the hall into a starry phone-lit sea.
But a highlight of the night was when Ruel brought out British DJ SG Lewis to perform their recently dropped track, “Flames”. The two teased the tune together at Coachella and released it only a week ago, but the crowd already knew every lyric.
The night concluded with tracks “Dazed & Confused”, “Younger” and an encore of his latest single, “Painkiller”. It felt monumental to see Ruel perform a sold-out hometown show at the Sydney Opera House. With the projects he’s got in the pipeline, including opening for Shawn Mendes in November, it’s exciting to see where his career is at now and how exponential the growth will be very soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ruel quite literally rules the world.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Ruel continues his Painkiller Tour in Sydney on Monday 20 May – head to Songkick for more ticket and tour information.
20 May | Sydney Opera House | Sydney, NSW (SOLD OUT)
24 May | Bruce Mason Centre | Auckland, NZ (SOLD OUT)
31 May | HQ Complex | Adelaide, SA
2 June | Astor Theatre | Perth, WA (SOLD OUT)
Header Image by Danny Hanssen