Ruel ruled over a sea of a adoring fans at Auckland’s Town Hall last night. It seems there was more than one coronation going on as it felt like Ruel had been crowned the new King Of Pop.
Ok, maybe that’s a stretch…but not much.
Ruel is Ruel van Dijk, a Sydney-based pop singer who looks (and sounds) poised to take his rightful place alongside Harry, Taylor and Ed.
At just 20 years old, Ruel comes across as a seasoned performer, confident, talented and with plenty of charisma. Maybe, like some other royalty, he was born into it. His Dad, New Zealand-raised Ralph van Dijk (there’s always a Kiwi connection) was/is a music industry veteran and so Ruel seemed destined for greatness even as he released his first single, way back in 2017 at age 14.
Now, at the crusty old age of 20, Ruel is ready to rule the world.
London-based Kiwi lass Molly Payton gets things started with an acoustic set that holds the attention of the very young, very female crowd waiting for Ruel. It’s no mean feat, especially as Molly’s full band show at Whammy a couple of weeks ago found the crown somewhat inattentive.
“I’m kinda freakin’ out a little bit”, she reveals, but there is no reason to freak.
Along with Molly is “Scotty”, Reuben Scott of Salt Water Criminals, on acoustic guitar and the 7-song set goes down well with Molly introducing a new song, Bandits, “coming out in a couple of weeks”
Ruel has just released his debut album, 4th Wall, an ambitious 14-track affair that feels like a sci-fi concept album and was influenced films like The Truman Show and Fight Club.
Yes, Ruel has big ideas and those ideas translate into a big show, one that almost is too big for the Town Hall.
The show is almost sold out, and already the crowd is singing along to Harry Styles and 5 Seconds Of Summer, warming up for the main event.
It’s a dramatic intro.
The giant LED screen display flashing light and a silhouetted figure falling…then suddenly Ruel picks himself up from the stage and begins singing Go On Without Me. And the crowd sings along…they know every word.
It’s a dramatic opening to a very theatrical show. But the theatrics never get in the way of the music.
We get two more tunes from 4th Wall, Growing Up Is _ and You Against Yourself, with the audience shouting the chorus back to Ruel.
Ruel notes that the energy is “top notch”, a bit of an understatement.
Mid-set we get a cover of One Direction’s Night Changes mixed with Ruel’s own Wish I Had You mixed with JVKE’s Golden Hour, with Ruel sitting on the edge of the stage, within touching distance of his adoring fans.
Indeed, he does jump into the crowd later as his blue-clad roadies keep him safe. And his band, a trio consisting of musical director/keyboard player Beau Golden, guitarist Daniel Walsh and drummer Michael Avenaim, are with him all the way.
Other highlights include a rare outing of If And/Or When, which was only performed live one other time at his Sydney homecoming show four days earlier.
And there’s another cover…Coldplay’s Sparks.
“Shall I keep that in the setlist?” he teases.
Sure, but honestly the fans came out to hear his own songs and by the end of the 80-minute set they were still singing along to every word.
Giant yellow balls were kicked into the crowd, jackets were taken off and phones were waved in the air.
This was Ruel’s night and his fans no doubt made him feel like a king.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk:
- Go On Without Me
- Growing Up Is _
- You Against Yourself
- Dazed and Confused
- Face To Face
- If And/Or When
- Must Be Nice
- Night Changes/Wish I Had You/Golden Hour
- Free Time/Lie
- Someone Else’s Problem
- Sitting In Traffic
- End Scene
- I Don’t Wanna Be Like You
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