In a string or January gigs that have left my mouth watering and my ears ringing, Brent Faiyaz (Christopher Brent Wood) destroyed Max Watts in Sydney. Touring his album ‘Sonder Son’ with a live 3-piece band and himself on vocals, this was a stripped back, laid bare show that left nothing but the audience, performers, and music to connect and inspire one another.

This was my album of the year in 2017, so to say that I was excitable for this show is an understatement. The album is a mixture of bass heavy, highly polished beats and live guitar and bass, so to see a 3 piece band (guitar/acoustic guitar by the virtuoso Carlos Munoz, plus a bass, and drummer) meant we were in for some live versions of electronic, bass heavy beats. And wow did the band not disappoint. Driving bass lines, sensual and soft guitar, going from electronic to acoustic, with some backing track offering up small keyboard samples and backing vocals, this was one of the best live versions of an album that I’ve seen.

Faiyaz is a modern version of the unique male vocalist RnB singers of the later 90’s, early 2000’s (Think R. Kelly, Usher, Ginuwine, KC & Jo Jo). With an ability to pitch his voice that is beyond many, matched well with his backing band, some tracks just hit you, stomp on your heart and don’t let go. An acoustic build from ‘Burn One’ into ‘First World Problemz’ – plus guitar solo from Munoz, is a prime example – melodies and ballads that are incredibly soulful and heartfelt. It’s this combination plus the meaningful lyrics found in ‘L.A’ and ‘Stay Down’ that allow the audience to connect so well with performers. ‘All I Want’ is powerful live, with live drumming, and snare work really driving home the syncopated beats. ‘Talk 2 U’ is performed with some backing vocals for the chorus, and acoustic guitar strumming out the melodies.

Faiyaz has a stage presence and a craft that showed how connected he was with the audience. Coming out layered in sweater, shirt, and T, he slowly strips off as his performances become more energetic and engaged. Hopping down into the crowd during guitar and bass solos, introducing his band first up in the show, syncopated thrusts with the band – it was a pleasure watching him perform. Talking with the crowd asking if those witnessing the show were ‘In school or working’ or asking those to yell out if ‘they’re chasing something people said you can’t do’. This is a man aware of his journey, and aware of his ability to inspire those around him. His craft and care could be seen when the bass dropped in ‘Gang Over Luv’ – not hitting the right levels combined with vocals, Faiyaz cuts, throws the band a sign to smoothly change up into some melody and then, gets back into the song before the bass drop, this time with the right levels. That shows how much he cares for his own artistic integrity, shows his respect for the audience, and his ability to want to inspire others to do better.

After dropping ‘Crew’ sans Goldlink’s vocals, playing a three-song encore, the last of which is pure backing, and having a party with the audience and band members, I’m left reeling at what was an inspiring and heart felt show. Picked myself up a pressed Vinyl at the end, and starting at it now, I know I’m going to remember a man at the top of his craft, creating inspiration for others by going through and sharing his own journey, for a long time to come.

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