Damn. Just Damn., That was huge. A sold out Hordern Pavilion in Sydney played host to Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals, who are embarking on their ‘Andy’s Beach Club World Tour’, showcasing the latest album ‘Oxnard’ to crowds across the world. Having seen Paak on his previous 2 tours in Australia, I was filled with anticipation to see what progression he had made as an artist, and also as a performer – this man does not like to tread water.
Nai Palm (Naomi Saalfield – lead singer from Hiatus Kaiyote) was on warm up duties. Performing with 3 back up vocalists (Laura, JJ, and Jez) in front of a massive white sheet, this was a stripped back performance, that showcased the amazing vocal and musical talents of the Melbourne based singer. Rocking bedazzled pants, a Kiss inspired t-shirt and an arrow guitar, Nai Palm and the singers looked like a lineup from Brunswick in Melbourne. Musically, Nai Palm’s work is such an interesting mix of beautiful soaring vocals, that are stilted with guitar riffs. Songs from her ‘Needle Paw’ album such as ‘Crossfire/So Into You’, ‘Have You Ever Been’, and ‘Blackstar’, hit you with such an uplifting wave of happiness and hope. The crowd, mesmerised by Saalfield’s soaring, angelic voice, hear of her recent health battles and surgery – with her stating that this tour was something planned that helped her ‘stick around’. Your soul and mind feels uplifted after a show like this. She has got to have one of the best voices I have ever seen live, mixed beautifully with the talented back up vocalists and guitar. Truly awe inspiring. This was worth admission alone, with Paak still to come.
I was a bit thrown off by the ‘Beach Club’ moniker being applied to the tour, but it all came into place with a massive slowly rising sun the back drop behind the white sheet, with Paak and the Free Nationals opening the show with ‘The Chase’ from ‘Oxnard’. The bass, the drums, the vocals, the funk, just hits you and gets you moving. 4 piece Free Nationals, 2 dancers with one on vocals (Who I’m fairly sure is Sonyae Elise), spewing massive flames from the stage – this is a huge start. Paak doesn’t let up, with the bass heavy ‘Who R U?’ and ‘Bubblin’. Personally, I don’t think his voice or rapping rhythm is as suited to this style of hard rap, over bass, over a slower bpm. It lacks the soulfulness of his more musically and vocally diverse work, and doesn’t showcase his talents like when he raps in double time. The crowd is absolutely heaving though, so you can’t argue with success.
Other song’s from the album ‘6 Summers’, ‘Saviers Road’, ‘Smile/Petty’, “Anywhere’ all get played with huge energy from Paak. Strolling the stage rocking a bucket hat, singlet and shorts, Paak launches himself into the crowd for a bit of surfing, engaging with this enthralled Sydney audience. His personality and humour has always come through his shows, but this was high energy performing, not letting the audience or himself relax, aside from letting the Free nationals play their latest single Beauty& Essex .
Given the success of his previous works (‘Venice’ and ‘Malibu’) the show has plenty of Paak and the Free National’s hits. ‘Milk and Honey’, and ‘Might Be’ from ‘Venice’, and ‘Glowed Up’ from Kaytranada’s album ‘Uno’. The best of the show was definitely saved until last. ‘Come Down’ was gargantuan live, into ‘Tints’ from Oxnard, into ‘The Waters’ into ‘Am I Wrong’. Paak grabbed every last bit of energy and sweat from the crowd, not letting the rest until he was off the stage.
With an encore of Suede (NxWxrries) and finishing with a tribute to Mac Miller with ‘Dang’, the crowd slowly dispersed into the warm summers evening, leaving their minds and marbles behind after seeing one of the best talents and performers in the game, bringing his and their all.