A teenage sensation on a European tour, filling capital cities’ venues with hundreds of screaming teenage girls as they blast through a pop-filled hour of music – it’s nothing you haven’t heard before… right?
Think again. As Ruel fans lose their minds 10 minutes before stage time at a momentary testing of the lights, Monday night in The Garage of Highbury looks pretty darn predictable. Moments later, as Ruel saunters to the stage and husks out the opening “I’m not your disciple, I chose how I sin” of ‘Don’t Tell Me‘, it’s clear this Australian teen is something out of the ordinary.
A return to the English capital, having been born in London before heading Down Under with his family, Ruel has sold out the 600 capacity venue (he’s grown a habit of doing that). No-one knows quite where his soulful voice far beyond his years has come from – but it’s that, alongside his honest alternative pop, that makes Ruel far more than another millennial teenage sensation.
‘Don’t Tell Me’ snaps into the Jarami remix for its final chorus before he drops breakout track and fan-favourite ‘Golden Years’. By the time he’s debuting a new song from his upcoming sophomore EP in ‘Real Thing’, he’s got the audience hooked. 2018’s Ready EP was a phenomenal success, helping him on his way to winning Breakthrough Artist at the ARIA Music Awards 2018, and its resonance with fans is clear as Ruel strolls through ‘Say’ and ‘Not Thinkin’ Bout You’.
Casting your eyes to the back of The Garage, you see parents patiently waiting for their kids to enjoy their night. However, as Ruel gets going, those faces are pulled forwards – it’s a testament to Ruel’s songwriting. ‘Flames‘ is a pulsing SG Lewis collaboration that is unlike any other Ruel track, and is one of the night’s highlights alongside the closing ‘Painkiller‘. Elsewhere, ‘Younger’, a refusal to be dragged down by a bad influence of a friend, is one of those tracks even new fans are sure they’ve heard somewhere before and unreleased ‘Unsaid’ is a break-up ballad turn ode to a young friend’s passing.
He’s an artist who knows where he wants to be too. Dropping covers of electropop songwriter extraordinaire Jack Garrat’s ‘Weathered’ and The Weeknd’s ‘Call Out My Name’, it’s clear the Aussie is aiming for age-defying music.
The fact Ruel is just 16-years-old is something that does deserve repeating. Then again, when you’re making music and working crowds like this, it’s only his talent that fans are talking about as they pour out onto the London streets.
Look out for our interview with Ruel later this week. Did you catch the singer’s set in London? Let us know @CelebMix on Twitter.