In the heart of Freo at one of Perth’s best live music venues, the Fremantle Arts Centre came alive Saturday night for its regular Sundown Sessions headlined by NSW rockers The Rubens. Fresh off the back from their recent Hoops tour, The Rubens have been making a remarkably impressive impact since they burst into the scene in 2011. And given the sheer size of the crowd on the night, I was pretty intrigued to see these blokes’ high-energy rock vibes live.
Setting the tone for evening, Fraser A. Gorman and The Preatures warmed up a heavily growing audience. It’s not often you see such an overflowing fan attendance at a local gig before the main act has even approached sound check; but after tackling the lines and shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, it was safe to say both supports had positively hyped things up.
It was almost difficult to get into the first song Switchblade however, with the wild-frenzy of the crowd mass moving to the stage at the initial sight of The Rubens. But, like any great live music gig it got the atmosphere pumping and it was great to see how quickly they had that crowd comfortably hooked in.
The Rubens lunged into Best We Got and immediately the ample difference in sound between their recorded music and what you heard in the flesh wowed you, showing a true credit to their technical skills. Whilst they still brewed their own tweaks and distortions on stage, their live performance sound was almost identical to that of them in the studio. A quick introduction straight after got fans charged with lead singer Sam Margin clearly being in awe of the ridiculously high attendance.
Flowing between their first album and the latest goodies from Hoops, The Rubens played all the crowd favourites including Cut Me Loose, Hallelujah, Lay It Down and The Best We Got. And despite running into a few tech-issues along the way, they kept the show going awkwardly laughing off the glitches as Margin welcomed everyone to “their rehearsal”. Nevertheless, they continued to smash out the tracks as if they were playing in a massive stadium vibe. Hats off to that.
Frontman Margin was the definite show stealer of the night, adding a charismatic and quirky element to the performance and bouncing off the crowd’s good-vibes at every opportunity. Crowd surfing midway through the set impressing adoring fans, Margin returned to the stage pumped for more as he explained some guy tried to steal his show along the way – but “that’s the shit we want to see”. Amen to that!
Their 2012 knockout hit My Gun was lapped up by the super-enthusiastic audience, with Hoops also being an absolute winner live. Other highlights included Things About to Change, The Night Is On My Side and a well-received cover of The Angels’ Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again. Although Margin’s continuous guitar changes got a little distracting at times, his switch to keys for a softer and more intimate performance of Never Be The Same was fantastic.
With a fresh mix of such heartfelt, funk-infused bluesy tunes, The Rubens set fire to a successful night of chilled vibes at the FAC – perfect for what the Sundown Session evenings are all about. Showing they are truly committed to giving their fans something slightly diverse with their live performances whilst still offering a sound recognisably on brand, The Rubens treated fans to smooth harmonies, unexpected vocal variations and deeper guitar exploration. They finished off the set in front of a sea of grooving mosh-pitters – evidently happy with the outcome of the night as Margin invited everyone back to the after-party with a beer in his hand ready to go.
Special thanks to Fremantle Arts Centre and Alexander Rojas for the use of their images.