Live Review: Hilltop Hoods w/ Maverick Sabre and AB Originals @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre
It was an early start for Adelaide’s favourite hip hop crew Hilltop Hoods on Friday night, but it couldn’t have started soon enough, The crowd filled up the seats around the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and piled into the front standing area, soaking up the hum of anticipation in the atmosphere as tame hip hop tracks played over the sound system.
The AB Originals were first to perform, and nothing could have prepared crowd for their attention-demanding attitude and stage presence. These guys had all eyes on them as soon as they took the stage, starting the show with one simple question – “Brisbane, what the f*ck is up?!”
The biggest of the AB Originals held a towel over his shoulder, wiping sweat from his brow as he sauntered around the stage.
The passion in the performance was incredible, fuelled by a long history of racial injustice and discrimination, and watching a group of huge guys dressed head to toe in black lay it all on the stage was an experience like no other.
The biggest of the AB Originals held a towel over his shoulder, wiping sweat from his brow as he sauntered around the stage. By the last song, the towel had been replaced by a huge Aboriginal flag, hanging proudly down his back like a cape. It was a short but memorable set, and the crowd of hip hop lovers fell just as hard for the message as they did for the beat.
Following the AB Originals, British soul singer and rapper Maverick Sabre looked tiny up on the stage, but what he lacked in size, he made up for in talent. He looked the part in a black turtleneck sweater and jeans, and from the moment he opened his mouth until the end of his short set, his soulful voice stole the show. The crowd was impressed by his passionate vocal performance and skilful, lyrical rhymes.
Halfway through Sabre’s set, the fans began to grow impatient for Hilltop Hoods, but he kept things interesting with a good dose of audience participation. He had the crowd singing along to a mixed bag of popular soul songs for at least ten minutes, waving their arms up and down in salute.
From the moment Sabre opened his mouth until the end of his short set, his soulful voice stole the show.
He freshened up every track with his own style and urged the crowd to sing along as he skilfully worked Rufus & Chaka Khan’s 80s hit Ain’t Nobody and The Fugees’ classic hip hop number Ready or Not into the set. Maverick’s performance was like a pocket rocket, small and powerful, and the memory of his soulful lyrics will long outlast the show.
During the intermission, the stage crew placed more white towels around the stage in anticipation of a sweaty performance and carried around huge trays filled with cups of water for the punters in the front row. All signs suggested that it was about to get hot.
Until that point, the whole show had been a nonstop hip hop extravaganza, including the songs played during intermission, and with so much orchestra equipment to prepare, it was obvious that the intermission was going to go for a while. Middle aged men wearing HTH crew T-shirts wandered around behind the barriers and closed curtains as the crowd craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the Queensland Show Choir behind the curtain.
Suddenly the silence was broken as the music swelled, the lights blared, and the curtains began to open. A deafening roar arose from the crowd, and seconds later Hilltop Hoods emerged on the stage in front of a full symphony orchestra and launched into Higher. Suffa and MC Pressure looked no different to anybody else in their T-shirts and three-quarter pants, but the crowd knew what they were about to see would be anything but ordinary.
Just one song (and a few well-timed fireworks) was enough to demonstrate the orchestra’s incredible influence on the audience’s excitement and the energy on stage.
Just one song (and a few well-timed fireworks) was enough to demonstrate the orchestra’s incredible influence on the audience’s excitement and the energy on stage. The timpani was an unforgettable addition to Higher, the drummer giving it everything he had on stage and sending shockwaves through the thousands of bodies in the building.
Hilltop Hoods took their rhymes to the next level with Chase That Feeling. The two MCs were perfectly in sync on stage in their words and movements, and the crowd seemed to discover a new wave of energy, singing the words out loud. Although no one could match pitch with the ladies from the Queensland Show Choir, the screams seemed to be appreciated on the stage.
Suffa and MC Pressure delivered a few numbers from ‘Drinking From The Sun’ in style, knocking over the title track and following it up with their popular 2006 track The Hard Road. The incredible atmosphere combined with the projected close-up footage of DJ Debris behind the stage and the sheer size of the orchestra made the show an experience for all the senses.
The opening line of I Love It was all it took to fill the Entertainment Centre with anticipation.
Amongst the endless stream of impressive rhymes and energetic live versions of old classics, the group’s recent collaborative effort with Sia, I Love It, was a definite highlight. The opening line was all it took to fill the Entertainment Centre with anticipation. “I’m wondering where the day went”, Suffa started as the crowd screamed – once the orchestra finally kicked the song into gear, everyone in the front row was going mental.
It was obvious just how hard the guys were working, spitting rhymes with startling precision and throwing in synchronised dance moves at the same time.
Maverick returned to the stage to lend his vocals to a few numbers, and he was just as impressive with the band as without. He sang his part from Live And Let Go so well that it was impossible to discern from the recording.
At the business end of the night, Hilltop Hoods pulled out the big guns with their enduringly popular 2003 hit The Nosebleed Section, and for the first time the crowd seemed able to keep up with most of the words. There’s nothing quite like screaming along to one of Hilltop Hoods’ old classics in a crowd filled with die-hard Brisbane fans to get you fired up.
“We have a rule on tour,” he said. “If you f*ck up onstage, you have to give the crowd 20 push-ups.”
The Nosebleed Section is a classic and a tough act to follow, but as the orchestra played the opening notes of 1955, the crowd couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. Suffa attempted to throw down a freestyle rap and made a spectacular mess of it, but he picked himself up and finished the song with true Aussie style.
“That was the worst freestyle I’ve ever done in my life,” he admitted to the crowd as MC Pressure laughed along. “We have a rule on tour,” he said. “If you f*ck up onstage, you have to give the crowd 20 push-ups.” Like a true good sport, Suffa got down and knocked 20 out on stage as if it was nothing. Even after that mini workout, the boys kept their enthusiasm up until the very end of the show, working so hard that they were covered in sweat.
Title track Walking Under The Stars had the crowd chanting along to the familiar words, and acoustic number Shredding The Balloon took everyone back to the release of the 2012 album. For a room full of hard-core fans, the audience was surprisingly easy-going, and by the end of the night, there had been a measly grand total of one punter escorted from the premises by security.
For those who stayed until the very end, Hilltop Hoods saved the best until last, keeping Cosby Sweater up their sleeves as an epic encore and the perfect way to finish the show. The Restrung tour is an epic celebration of the trio’s 22nd year of making anthemic rap their domain, and at the rate they’re going, they’ve got years of genre-defining hip hop left in the tank.
Check out our gallery from the Restrung Tour HERE