Margaret Court Arena
21 April

Following a Welcome To Country, Forest Claudette kicks things off with his first song Gone Without A Trace from his debut EP – The Year Of February. His “big ass” green flared pants, which he describes are featured in the video he did for a song called Mess Around bring a “particular energy” to the stage tonight, feeling fun and carefree.

Blending together a smooth mix of soul, hip-hop and alternative RnB, Claudette delivers a cool set with a charismatic performance to draw us in and quickly capture our attention. He shares a song about being nineteen and not giving a fuck. “Even if you’re not nineteen, I want you to feel it,” he says. The audience makes some wiggle room for a dance as he sings his first single Creaming Soda, which already sparks a big crowd reaction.

The audience turns their lights on to create a mood and he picks up a guitar to round out his set with a cover of Moses Sumney’s track Plastic, followed by a song called Goodbye, boasting his big vocals and slick falsetto.

A voiceover can be heard through the speakers making an announcement on behalf of the ‘Fourth Wall Authority’. “We are on the hunt for a wanted man. 20-year-old male, 6 foot-five, blonde hair, green eyes,” says the AI voice. Ruel is quickly spotted as he makes a grand entrance, bursting out onto the stage with the lead song (GO ON WITHOUT ME) from his debut album 4TH WALL.

The stage recreates the outdoor setting from his album shoot with grassy patches, rocks and even a big tree with hanging flowers beside the keyboards. Ruel brings down the walls and invites fans into his world. He kicks off his shoes and runs down the stage ramp hurtling towards the moshpit of screaming fans as he sings YOU AGAINST YOURSELF.

“This is my first arena show (of my own), it’s all me baby!” He shouts with excitement. After a quick pre-show rant, he puts some different shoes on and continues with an older song Dazed & Confused and the crowd sings the last chorus back to him.

It’s clear Ruel’s spent time finessing his record to get it right and the delivery is something he’s proud to share with us, particularly in this live setting. His youthful energy is infectious, and his vocal range and song writing skills are remarkable. He showcases his artistic growth and maturity with a mix of emotional ballads and powerful introspective lyrics that are honest and relatable.

A phone on the stage rings and he picks it up to sing a slower sad ballad (IT MUST BE NICE) down the line. He then sets up at the piano for an intimate part of the set with Hard Times, followed by a cover of One Direction’s Night Changes and own his remix of golden hour.

Ruel picks it up a bit for everyone to dance along to his SG Lewis collab Flames packed with electric guitars and smoke cannons. He jumps down into mosh pit to get up close with fans, trust-falling into the hands of a few as they hold him up whilst he sings the final chorus.

Yellow inflatable balls are then thrown into the audience to kick around during Painkiller and he picks up his acoustic guitar for END SCENE before the encore. After a quick break, Ruel re-emerges with a blue balaclava cover and rips it off to reveal an outfit change for his final song I DON’T WANNA BE LIKE YOU. The catchy alt-pop tune ends the show on a high. Ruel continues to push the limits and his trajectory of rising success.

Words by Michael Prebeg

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