Experiencing these musicians in one of the most beautiful places to see live music, the Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder, CO was a wonderful experience and a memory that will stay. The landscapes that surround the foothills of Boulder make an aesthetic canvas for a perfect evening. There were people having picnics on the lawn, while others threw Frisbees under the setting sun. While inside the giant barn type structure, the amount of talent that oozes out of both the opener Mike Love and Xavier Rudd is something that every person needs to see for themselves. Not only do they both make their listeners feel really good, but they also are some of the best at their crafts in the business. The combination is what made this a night to remember.
After missing most of Mike Love’s set because of frustrating guess list confusion, I was able to catch at least the last two songs. The rest I heard from outside. But Mike Love is a true modern day musical revolutionary who is rising fast in the reggae world. He is from Oahu, Hawaii, and comes from a very musical family. His lyrics make you nod your head and want to clap. He ended his show with “Permanent Holiday,” which as songwriting goes, may be one of the best reggae songs ever written. Love was on stage alone using his pedals to create all of the loops and beats that accompany his guitar and vocals. It is simple mesmerizing to see even after a short thirty minute opening set.
Xavier Rudd & the United Nations wandered on stage next. Most of them were dressed in their native clothing, but no one dressed the same. Some had on tribal gear and others army fatigues. Rudd came on with his vest and hat with feathers in it and medicine bags hanging. Just their presence gives the audience a warm feeling. This year was the first time that solo artist Xavier Rudd decided to play and tour with a full band, and I firmly believe that it added a power that was well worth it. Coming off of their new album, Nanna, which is one of the best albums that I have heard since Beck’s Morning Phase, they played much of it throughout their show. It’s Rudd’s ninth album and was mixed by Errol Brown at Tuff Gong Studios. It was all amazing, but the crowd woke up after “Follow the Sun,” and we really started dancing along. When they played “Flag,” one of the band members danced around with a flag, while the whole band danced around.
In the second set, after a few more off of Nanna, Rudd gave prayers and props to all grandmothers of life in “Nanna” and “Bundagen,” and then introduced the members of the band all from either Australia or islands around the land down under. Each one played a significant role in the performance. My eyes truly circulated throughout the stage at every instrument player because of their talents. Rudd’s vocals are truly second to none. It sounds a little like Bob Marley’s, in its own very unique way. He plays so many instruments himself, so in combination with this talented group, magic happens. The end of the show featured a spirited “Radiate,” and a song that he brought Mike Love on for. These are two of the best voices a listener can hear, and they were both on stage together. It was spiritually moving.
My favorite songs of the night were probably “While I’m Gone” because of Rudd’s ridiculous vocal variations and “Hanalei” because of its uplifting dance beat and lyrics. I highly recommend the new album, and seeing this band play live. I felt amazing after this concert!