This review was published on the AU review on 29/12/2013 and can be viewed here.
The Grammy Award-winning clan was supported by local MC Urthboy who was backed by fellow The Herd vocalist Jane Tyrrell, a DJ at the decks, a drummer and a guy on the synthesizer. With hip-hop continually rising up in the ranks of Australian music; adorning a t-shirt that read ‘Australia Has a Black History’ in front of the Aboriginal flag, the MC performed an impressive set including the keyboard-driven, catchy “We Get Around“.
The headlining septet performed an entertaining set of soulful, jazzy hip-hop tracks amongst choreographed stepping and jumping in unison.
Despite their music being so mesmerising, it was difficult at times during the 1 ½ hour set, to determine which tracks were being performed, as there was little time between tracks and the backing music morphed into one. The only track I was able to make out was “Silent Treatment“.
Amongst their own tracks, a small number of covers were performed as well. Kanye West/Frank Ocean/Jay-Z collab “No Church in the Wild” blasted while the band played their own track over it, the only rock-based song for the night was a loud cover of Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’Mine” and during the vocal scatting and guitar riffing solo by guitarist Captain Kirk, he slipped in fellow Grammy Award-winning Australian adoptee Gotye’s line “Somebody That I Used To Know“.
The solos didn’t stop there. Tuba Gooding Jr, wrapped around by his life-sized tuba-family instrument, the sousaphone, had his time in the limelight, as did keyboardist Kamal Gray – synthesising an array of fast-paced syncopated notes. At one point the lads, including bassist Mark Kelley and original band member vocalist Black Thought left the stage to allow Roots mastermind ?uestlove and percussionist F.Knuckles to perform a percussive call-and-response drumming duet.
Towards the end of the show Knuckles jumped out from behind the drums to mimic Black Thought who had an American flag hanging out of his back pocket, as he rapped flawlessly and harmoniously. With no encore in sight as the show finished up and the lights were back on, the band remained on stage to soak up the adoration the crew was receiving from their fans. Some people in the front row were bowing down to the band and throughout the show a girl behind me had her hands to her face in awe. A few people shouted out encore but to no avail.
?uestlove emerged from behind his drum kit wearing a Roots Crew hoodie to throw drumsticks into the crowd; many more were thrown out by Knuckles, as was the set list. The Roots are one of those bands that when you see them visually sounds better than on record.