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RHYE @ Chevron Gardens gets 8/10


Rhye @ Chevron Gardens
w/ Lucy Peach, Rabbit Island
Sunday, February 24, 2019

8/10

For an artist not widely known in Australia, Rhye pulled an impressive crowd of all ages for a Sunday during a busy time of year. The Canadian’s flawless falsetto has obviously impressed many who’ve heard it. He is also known to many thanks to featuring on UK producer Bonobo’s track Break Apart, from the superb 2017 album Migration. And live with his full band he was even more impressive; stunning and silencing the Sunday massive with his angelic tones.

Lucy Peach

It was a night of fine voices and harmonies, as local chanteuse Lucy Peach charmed the early crowd inside on the main stage with her sweet and sharp songs and banter, while outside Rabbit Island performed on the Gardens Stage, followed by DJ Chicken Wing who had an excitable little crowd dancing with an awesome all vinyl set of old funk and soul, digging deep into her crates for some rare grooves. The outside beer garden area was buzzing, with many groups camped out making the most of the balmy Sunday evening in this great, sprawling and well equipped venue while it lasts.

Rhye

Much like Bonobo, Rhye has assembled an impressive live band of talented musicians to fully flesh out his sound. An array of instrumentation filled the dark stage that was washed out in red, pink and purple tones, and just after 9pm, the band walked out, followed by Rhye, so casually dressed in a baggy sweatshirt, rolled up jeans and sneakers, that the crowd momentarily didn’t notice. As they did they broke into applause, though they were silenced again as the band kicked in softly with Verse. At the first note of Rhye’s voice following the instrumental opener, there were cheers, so impressed were the crowd to hear that voice break the silence live in front of them.

While his voice is quite extraordinary live, Rhye (aka Mike Milosh) has an interesting, slightly awkward, stage presence. He is central to the band, as they watch him for cues, like a conductor. He closes his eyes as he sings, pitch-perfect, at times holding a note so pure it sounds like a flute. You can see he’s totally immersed in the music, as he grooves around on the stage, occasionally moving over to play the keyboard, or bang a couple muted, towel-covered drums. He cam across occasionally as tense, but only because he seems to be such a perfectionist, always paying attention to how everything sounds, and even went over to speak to the sound desk sometimes.

Rhye

They played a great extended live version of Please, breaking down the “Keep me all of you sugarcane”, getting a clap-along from the crowd. Seeing him singing live, his voice has a more warm personality. His studio recordings are smooth, but they can be a bit clinical with their production. He’s actually better live – his voice, along with the incredibly tight full band, who give the songs a bigger, more organic sound, with real deep jazzy soul and R&B vibes.

There was a cool Rhodes keyboard player, a guitarist with some mean licks, that knew how to play his part, a super-funky bass player, drummer, as well as a cello and awesome violinist. A more bombastic number followed that showed off the string section, as they built to a huge orchestral peak at the end.

The lush, downtempo house grooves of The Fall from his debut 2015 album Woman enticed cheers, as its chilled piano roll floated through the night sky, before they picked things up with the more upfront and funky sounds of Last Dance, that features a real groovy bassline reminiscent of Bill Withers’ Lovely Day, and featured an amazingly epic wah-wah pedal violin solo that built to a crescendo.

Rhye

He then announced they’d be playing a couple tracks off new EP that is out next week, and they were both great and in fitting with his high standard. One featured an awesome solo from the guitarist, showing his versatility, and the second saw the bass player up the fuzz bass to the max, and saw Milosh on keys again – it really built at the end and lifted the mood.

They busted out their big tune Taste from his most recent 2017 album Blood with its big Daft Punk bumping bassline and another big guitar solo. Then they took it back to one of his first big tracks, the heart-breakingly beautiful Open, Milosh’s ability to sing so softly and understand in falsetto, yet with impact, was impressive.

Checking the clock, he said they only had time for one of two more, and was struggling to decide what to play – several of the crowd yelled out for the gentle love ballad Song For You, but they picked it up with the upbeat Hunger, before pleasing the crowd and finishing with Song For You, with Milosh breaking it down at the end, stripping away the instruments until it was just him singing over some finger-snapping. The raw beauty of the moment was tangible. He beckoned the crowd to click along, and repeat the drawn out lyric with him, “Ohhhhhh, I feel your heart baby”.

A magical, transfixing, first-class evening of song and voice. Rhye is a real talent and it was so great of the Festival to bring him out for an intimate performance like that. Hopefully we’ll see him again soon, and he can charm a whole new audience with his golden tones.

ALFRED GORMAN

Photos by Linda Dunjey

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