The Rubens

It’s only been two years since The Rubens came together to create their delightful, bluesy brand of rock’n’roll, but they have achieved a great deal in that short time. They've sold-out shows across the country, had a #1 on the iTunes charts with their self-titled debut album, a nomination for Best Video at the 2012 Aria awards for the music video for ‘My Gun’, and earlier in 2013, were chosen to open for Bruce Springsteen at his epic sold-out shows at Hanging Rock in Victoria.

The Rubens are hot property, so it was no surprise to discover they sold out the first night of their two-night stint at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre. Having first encountered the band at one of the Hanging Rock shows, I was delighted to have the opportunity to see them play a headlining show.

Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Ali Barter opened the show; her dreamy, folk-inspired music was a gentle way to begin the evening. In stark contrast, Ohio natives Walk The Moon wowed the audience with their delightful guitar-and-synth-driven indie-rock. Having never heard of the band until they were announced as a support on this tour, I was glad to see a that a large crowd had gathered to watch their set – The Forum was almost full before Walk The Moon even hit the stage. This was the band’s first ever show in Australia and it was obvious that they were genuinely delighted to be here. Their music is infectiously upbeat, with loud drums and synthesizers that urge you to dance along, alongside unexpectedly heartfelt and bittersweet lyrics that certainly had me intrigued… simply delightful! Highlights from their set were ‘Quesadilla’, ‘Anna Sun’, and ‘Tightrope’. I’m hoping this won’t be Walk The Moon’s only visit to Australian shores. They’re great fun, and their music is really good (see video for ‘Quesadilla’ below).

Of course, it was The Rubens, those four young lads from small-town NSW, that we were all there to see, and the crowd’s excitement and anticipation was palpable as the band finally hit the stage, opening with ‘The Day You Went Away’. This song was the perfect opener; Elliott Margin’s piano intro is instantly recognisable, and the explosion of sound after the second chorus set the tone for the rest of the night – we were all gonna have a good time. ‘Be Gone’, the second song of the night, was one of the highlights of the night for me – it’s such a damn good song, and the riff supplied by Zaac Margin is just sublime. The swoon-worthy ‘Elvis’ was also well received, and had many female fans looking at lead singer Sam Margin with lust and longing. It’s gotta be said – The Rubens are a good-looking band.
With these bluesy melodies, Sam’s soulful, sometimes gritty, but always sexy vocals, and heartfelt lyrics of love, heartache, sex, and growing up, it’s hard not to fall a little bit in love with the Margin brothers and their drummer friend Scott Baldwin.

There were several wonderful surprises during The Ruben’s set. The first of these was five songs in, when they chose to perform a cover of ‘The Seed’, originally by Cody Chesnutt & The Roots. Following this, I was shocked and delighted when Sam announced that singer-songwriter Bertie Blackman was to join them onstage to perform ‘Paddy’ – two fantastic Australian vocalists on the one stage. The final surprise was when, toward the end of the set, we were treated to a never-before-played-live-totally-brand-new song entitled ‘Cut Me Loose’. I can’t tell you much other than what my notes say: AMAZING. That’s surely a good sign of what’s to come from The Rubens.

By my calculations, the entire self-titled album was covered during the set. The standout for me, alongside ‘Be Gone’, was definitely ‘I’ll Surely Die', but I just really love that goddamn song. The band ended the night with crowd-pleasing hit ‘My Gun’, and I left The Forum feeling like I’d just been a part of something very special.

I can’t wait to hear more from this talented young band, and implore you to take any and every opportunity you have to see them live in concert. It’s something you won’t regret.
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