Review by Samantha Davies
Photo by Michelle Grace Hunder
Auckland saw the return of Australian artist, Ruel, on his most ambitious tour yet, treating fans to a completely new stage production as well as brand new music from his new EP ‘Free Time’.
Local singer-songwriter, Paige (Tapara), started the night off laying down some serious vocal talent and bringing amazing energy to the room. The audience already loved Paige as she stepped on stage, setting off an eruption of screams before she started her first song. It was clear to me that Paige belonged on the stage as she pulled off an impressive performance and her confidence was radiating as she chatted to the audience between her songs. Paige performed her song “So Far”, which has caught the eye of Billie Eilish, for reasons which are clear as she pulled out an acoustic guitar and delivered a moving performance showcasing her dulcet tones. By the end of her set, I’m sure Paige gained many new fans, who expressed their disappointment in a chorus of “aww” as she announced she only had one more song left for us. It will be worth keeping an eye on this young talent as she proved she has the potential to make it far with her music.
After playing sold-out shows throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia, sixteen-year-old Ruel van Dijk returned to Auckland for his biggest headline tour after the release of his second EP ‘Free Time’. I arrived at Shed 10 with high expectations after he pulled off an impressive performance at Bruce Mason Centre earlier this year, and once again, he did not disappoint. The anticipation only grew as we waited for Ruel to make his appearance on stage and the audience began to chant “we want Ruel” just minutes before he stepped on stage, welcomed with deafening screams from ecstatic fans. Accompanied by a five-piece band of much older musicians, Ruel kicked off his show with ‘Dazed and Confused’ where it was made clear that the audience of mostly young teenage girls knew every lyric as they passionately sang along. Ruels stage presence is like none other, from running and jumping around the stage to simply having deep emotion plastered on his face, there is never a dull moment as Ruel captivates the audience, gaining our full attention.
Ruel slowed it down to perform ‘Unsaid’, a tear-jerking song which touches on his personal experiences after his friend passed away after battling depression and other mental health issues. The atmosphere became tense as Ruel and his fans alike held back tears; especially after he said, “please sing along, it’s much easier if I don’t have to sing it alone”. As Ruel finished his emotional performance of ‘Unsaid’ audience members wiped tears away before he moved on to deliver an energetic performance of one of his first singles, and one of my personal favourites, ‘Don’t Tell Me’. ‘Don’t Tell Me’ is overflowing with soul and beautiful vocals which enhance the lyrics which Ruel wrote at just 12 years old. This song has always impressed me but seeing Ruel perform it again with a matured voice and more experience makes it increasingly hard to believe he is only 16 years old. The talent he displays makes me believe it’s not too far-fetched to say this kid could be the next Justin Bieber, and I think the hundreds of screaming teenagers would agree with me.
Ruel delivered an impressive performance which had fans screaming and singing along joyously as he rolled out hits such as ‘Golden Years’ and ‘Painkiller’. ‘Painkiller’ saw the audience hold nothing back as they belted out each line, proving they knew every word off by heart. Thanking his audience, Ruel and his band left the stage, leaving fans buzzing with anticipation as they began to chant “encore”. It wasn’t long before excitement spilled over as the lights dimmed and Ruel made his way back onto the stage, kicking off a passionate performance of ‘Hard Sometimes’. To finish off his set on a high, Ruel performed ‘Younger’ where he gave his all, moving back and forth across the stage and giving his fans the attention they crave by pointing and singing to as many as he could in the last few minutes of his show. His final song was executed perfectly, ending the night in a way that left fans overwhelmed with joy and adrenaline.
This sixteen-year-old sure does know how to put on an impressive show, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he has in store for us next; with his talent, it can only be good.