Review: Bryson Tiller shakes up the Sydney Opera House on his Australian tour

Bryson Tiller’s stock is skyrocketing in the music industry right now. It was only a matter of time really; anyone that caught onto his 2015 debut Trapsoul (or the “still finding his voice” Killer Instinct for the early birds) would have seen this success coming from a mile away, Tiller representing a new wave in the R&B scene with a distinctive (which is already saying a lot for a modern R&B artist) and adaptable style that was super-charged everything from the sparse, lo-fi production of “Don’t” to the 8-bit bombast of “Sorry Not Sorry”. Then came a second LP earlier this year, True to Self, which was sparked by tougher, meatier beats that were obviously built for a live show. Is there any surprise that he sold out a show at the iconic Sydney Opera House show in less than an hour? Nope.

It’s becoming increasingly easy to tell which fast-risers in the mainstream music scene are here to stay and which will drop off after a few hits. Bryson is here for the long run, and his performance at the Concert Hall was just another step towards that inevitable superstar status with hit after hit proving that we were watching someone who could very well be selling out arenas with a few more chart-toppers under his belt. The stadium-ready sound is most certainly there, pushed along as Bryson works the stage, flanked by a high-energy drummer and a keyboardist.

He zips out after a brief introduction courtesy of “Rain on Me”, blasting into tough-talking banger “Self-Made”; this isn’t your typical performance in the Concert Hall. Nor is it your typical Sydney Opera House audience, with a very festival-looking audience exploding with pure energy to just about every song thrown out by Bryson and the added thump he’d get from his small band. And the band is really what made that difference in the end; saturating the high-energy tracks like “Sorry Not Sorry” and “Rambo” – the latter capped by a blistering drum solo – and peeling back for crowd-pleasers “Exchange” and “Don’t”.

Obvious inclusion “Wild Thoughts” was given the live band treatment as well, stretched to add that extra oomph and preceded by a backup singer leading into it with “Maria Maria”. Although in a constant attempt to keep the crowd “lit” and “turned up”, Bryson’s set sacrificed more of the softer moments – like aforementioned highlight “Don’t” – for explosive, high-energy blends of hip hop and R&B that were tough, full and washed with bass ten times that of their recorded versions. Perhaps a balance is necessary to truly showcase Bryson’s undeniable talent, but until then, what he’s giving the crowd is hard not to love.

Bryson Tiller Set List

Rain on Me (Intro)
Blowing Smoke
Let ‘Em Know
Don’t Get Too High
Sorry Not Sorry
No Longer Friends
High Stakes
Before You Judge
Somethin’ Tells Me
Run Me Dry
Wild Thoughts
502 Come Up
Just Another Interlude
Been That Way
Set It Off

The reviewer attended this show on January 29th.

Photo by Daniel Boud.


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.