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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


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It’s truly a remarkable feat presenting a polished pop show, and with his 4TH WALL world tour, ARIA-Award-winning and multi-platinum Australian artist Ruel has done just that. Bringing his debut album to a live setting, the musician presented a spectacle that showcased his artistry and prowess as a live performer. Supported by alt-pop artist Forest Claudette, who almost stole the show with their soulful vocals and charismatic presence, the sold-out Sydney crowd was treated to a superb night of live music.

As darkness shrouds the theatre, lights begin to flare and an overhead voice known as ‘The 4TH WALL Authority’ reveals ‘Ruel Vincent van Dijk has escaped.’ Spotlights beam into the audience in search of the musician, before he appears on screen in silhouette form leaping from a back door into unknown territory. The stage erupts in lights, and the singer appears on stage to the riotous screams of his devoted fanbase. Opening the show with a trio of tracks from his debut album, Ruel kept to the back of the stage during GO ON WITHOUT ME, before slowly creeping forward during GROWING UP IS_____ and speedily cruising down the runway during YOU AGAINST YOURSELF.

Across the setlist, Ruel has curated a wonderful balance of songs from across his catalogue, from hit tracks to fan favourites and recent singles to earlier releases. His ARIA-Award winning track Dazed & Confused sent fans into a frenzy, as did his performance of Golden Hour - a collaboration with JVKE. The evening expertly showcased the artists own musicianship, allowing him chances to pick up the guitar during SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM and SITTING IN TRAFFIC. He was seated at the piano for WISH I HAD YOU and his cover of One Direction’s Night Changes, where a fan passed him a crocheted version of the tours setlist.

Throughout the night Ruel interactated with his fans, stopping to read their signs (one audience member offered him $50 for a setlist), taking a fans phone on stage to film the crowd, conversing with those in the mosh pit, and even leaped into the crowd during Younger. It’s clear he has cultivated an impassioned fanbase that emits a supportive and loving aura. The entire audience seemed entranced by the musicians gleaming vocal performance and emotive stage presence. He effortlessly manoeuvred between his falsetto register and fuller tones, seemingly never missing a note as he presented his rumination on on love and heartbreak within a coming-of-age context on stage.

The show replicates the albums conceptual nature of ‘breaking down the fourth wall’, and the escapist realisation that life isn’t all it appears to be. Boulders, trees, greenery and autumn leaves covered the stage, which is set up to appear like highway. That conceptual output never falters, with the musicians band and crew donning blue boiler suits that made their own movements on stage appear as choreographed performances in their own right. He even stops on the highway to answer the ring of a call box before launching into must be nice. It’s almost like a live version of The Truman Show, and of course Ruel is the star within a fishbowl viewfinder. Even the choice of hosting the show at Sydney’s Aware Super Theatre plays into this, with its steep seating elevation that feels menacingly close to the stage.

The production value of the 4TH WALL world tour adds to the shows pop-extravaganza approach. Dynamic lighting fills the auditorium and floods the stage throughout, whilst additional visuals light up the screens and support the source material. Everything appears considered and natural, albeit with a heavy use of smoke machines, and an effortless extension of the album itself. Closing with I DON’T WANNA BE LIKE YOU, Ruel returns to the stage joined by dancers for one final bow. Confetti falls from above and he takes his shoes off, leaving them behind at the end of the runway as the show comes to an end. And with that, the hitmaker has offered up a masterclass in crafting the ultimate pop show.

4TH WALL is out now! The 4TH WALL world tour will continue on to New Zealand, Asia, North America, Europe and the UK. Head here for more information.


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