Photography: Max Reilly
From the minute Budjerah took the stage at Northcote Social Club last Thursday night, he had his audience completely captivated. Kicking off 3 sold-out shows on the first national tour of his career, Budjerah is celebrating the release of his debut, self-titled EP.
The first phrase of his opening number, ‘Higher’ grasped gig-goers' attention letting them know they were witnessing something special. Budjerah belts with power and plays guitar with knowing prowess, exercising the same natural-born ease of the greats that came before him. His self-proclaimed influences Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke are ever-present in his gift.
It is profoundly special when soloists are able to simply stand there and allow us all to indulge in their talent, without the blight of ego or self-indulgence. Budjerah’s endearing nature immediately wins over his audience. He’s humble and doesn’t hesitate to show how grateful he is to be in everyone's presence.
As he guides us further into his set comprised of more originals, including ‘Pyro’ and ‘Shoulda Coulda’ (and a few unreleased tracks), the energy in the room shifts from awe to infectious grooving. A funky rendition of 'Valerie' had the crowd dancing and singing along. His covers of jazz songs ‘Misty’ and ‘Summertime’ prove he has the singing chops of a well-experienced musician.
A poignant and powerful original entitled ‘Why’ is an ode to the rates of Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody. It forced listeners to cling to every word and strum.
How the crowd felt about the performance they’d just seen was not left to the imagination. Budjerah wowed his fans, deservingly receiving a massive cheer and applause from the bandroom.
Budjerah is a perfect example of the future of Australian music. It’s hard to believe he’s only 18. The upwards trajectory of his career is sure to be fast, so remember the name.
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