As the final, lingering notes of Waves subsided, and the applause from the adoring crowd rose to a crescendo, Rushes took a moment to take it all in. As far as a first headline show go, few could have asked for more from the West Cork native. The bar has been set, expectation became reality and hopes came to be realised. A good start is half the battle, and boy was this a good start.
As numbers slowly began to filter through the doors upstairs in Whelan’s, Dublin rapper Malaki, leapt onstage and his second ever live performance, was mesmerizing to watch. A blend of charisma, brutal honesty and heartfelt delivery, his set of spoken word rap encapsulated what it means to grow up in inner-city Dublin. With songs about the 46A bus route, resolving issues over a ‘Cuppa Tea’ and mulling things over on Love Through A Cigarette, Malaki set the perfect tone for the evening ahead.
Rushes was met by raucous applause when he arrived onstage. Lapping up the applause, he then lay across the stage, using his hand like a remote, flicking between the channels on the stack of fat-backed television sets on side of the stage. Each of the individual televisions switched channels in unison as the music slowly began to build in the background until suddenly Rushes leapt to his feet and the band, made up of drum, bass, guitar and Keyboard played the opening notes of Liquor.
Throughout the set, the supporting band blended brilliantly into the background, as all good bands should, and played flawlessly throughout. Vocally, Rushes powered through the set without a hitch. Tracks such as Liquor, Glimpse and Desire showcase the power and technical ability of his voice. Between the controlled falsetto choruses and low-toned verses, Rushes is confident and at ease onstage, telling stories about the songs origins between cuts and smiling at jeers from some of his more vocal friends in attendance.
The highlights of the evening were early single Wild High, which is met by the loudest cheer of the evening, and Still Water, for which Rushes is joined onstage by Diffusion Lab labelmate Jafaris. An encore of Waves is given extra significance as a birthday cake arrives to celebrate Rushes’ birthday the previous day.
You get the sense that this is the perfect wave to end the show on for both the artist and audience. A successful trip to Dublin to be sure.