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Live Review: Bliss n Eso Tear the Roof off Fortitude Music Hall with The Sun

Sydney hip hop icons Bliss n Eso have built a reputation as one of the best live acts in the country, with the legacy to match it. The three-time ARIA-award winning trio kicked off their 29-date metro and regional tour on Friday 21 January at the Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane, supported by local frontrunner Nerve.

After postponing the original Byron Bay leg to April, Brisbane was lucky to claim the first show of their huge tour for seventh studio album, The Sun, at the gorgeous new venue – complete with chandeliers and incandescent lighting. Masked fans poured in to see what was for many the first big tour to go ahead in months, copping vibrant merch and sharing good vibes at the bar before entering the floor. Pockets of people eagerly waited in anticipation of witnessing some of the best in the game to do it – and they definitely did.

Nerve stormed the stage with a live drummer and longtime collaborator Smak on the decks, taking up hypeman duties and spitting a guest verse of two throughout the set. The established local immediately got the crowd chanting with their hands in the air and the energy of the room was palpable. Punters were treated to fervent renditions of singles ‘Tulips’, ‘Reece’s Pieces’ and even an unreleased track that went HARD before the versatile rapper literally let his hair down for a big finish.

During the intermission, staff cut the music and took over the PA to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and state that the venue is a safe space and welcomes everyone. The sentiment was met with cheers and applause from the crowd, keeping that sense of unity strong as time counted down to the awaited headliners.

Finally, the light bars placed around the stage glowed red and illuminated the backdrop of a Cadillac outta hell as the chilling intro to the album filled the room. Fans roared when Bliss n Eso ran out on stage to perform a medley of ‘The Prophecy’, ‘Family Affair’ and ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’. Despite wearing masks, the audience was so loud when belting out the tongue-in-cheek lyrics to that infectious hook. Eso shouted out a fan who was there on their birthday then Bliss emerged shirtless (and hella ripped) for energetic single ‘Send It’.

DJ Izm worked his magic on the decks with a scratch solo and live drum fills while the rappers prepared backstage for the second half of the explosive set, manipulating the voice of Alex Williamson for fan-favourite skit ‘Cialis Cuts’. The boys returned with a live premiere of instant classic ‘Tell the World That I’m Coming’, which absolutely went off as expected. Phone lights filled the air for album closer ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Friend Like You’ was dedicated to the late actor Johann Ofner, who died on the set of the video shoot for the song in 2017 and is made reference to in wholesome single ‘Good People’.

Bliss n Eso have missed the road and their triumphant return to the stage for a national headline tour shows that they certainly haven’t lost it. While the set consisted of many collab tracks without the feature artists, popular anthems like ‘I Am Somebody’ and ‘OGs’ still brought the house down. Of course, finishing with the renowned encore ‘Addicted’ will always be the perfect send off. A crowd shot with their islands in the sky (two shaka signs together to represent peace, love and unity) left the room as one, a testament to the legacy that the boys have created.

Written by Dylan Oxley