From the moment we joined the line to enter the venue, it was clear the Hilltop Hoods could pull an eclectic and diverse crowd. This sell-out show had attracted a mix of those in their twenties; parents with teen, tween, and even younger kids; and everyone in between. We even saw one baby in arms – certainly starting the H-bomb initiation early!
DJ Nino Brown was inviting everyone to Jump Around with House of Pain as we took our seats. The half-filled arena then got into the spirit by welcoming 22-year old rapper Shadow to the stage. This emerging rapper released his first EP earlier this year on the Hood’s own label, Golden Era Records, and showed great talent with tracks such as Cream.
By the time Mojo Juju, who proudly claims both Aboriginal and Filipino heritage, graced the stage with her brother Steve on drums, the Ent Cent had filled to almost capacity. Mojo Juju’s powerful shout out to the traditional owners of the land and acknowledgement of country was not lost on the crowd. Nor was the song she dedicated to Peter Dutton, Think Twice which had lyrics such as “because you get the airtime, you think you own the sky”, sublimely delivered with a rocking beat and some funky guitar riffs. Mojo Juju’s sultry voice powered through tunes such as A Heart Is Not A Yo-Yo, and others off her Native Tongue album such as the titular track. A fantastic support act with attitude and deserving of sell-out tours of her own!
Back to psych the crowd up for the headline act, DJ Nino Brown, spun gems from Busta Rhymes, Eminem and Macklemore, before the lights dimmed, the Great Expanse Introduction played, the crowd went nuts, and the Hilltop Hoods came out on stage. It was clear the boys, MC Pressure, MC Suffa, and DJ Debris, were playing to a home-ground crowd! It might have been DJ Debris’ t-shirt which gave it away, listing a number of southern suburbs such as Morphett Vale, Christies, Reynella, Hallett Cove, and Hackham. Or it was when the boys asked who had been to a Hilltop Hoods concert before, and 90% of the arena erupted in affirmation – perhaps such a majority would only happen in Adelaide. The guys were accompanied by a three-piece brass section (AKA the horny boys), drummer Plutonic Lab, and for much of the 20-song set, Adelaide’s own Nyassa.
A rousing Chase That Feeling preceded the good, yet frustrated feels of Leave Me Lonely which heralded huge silver streamers raining down on general admission. The boys made it obvious that it was a pleasure to be home before encouraging everyone to join in with the Nosebleed Section, especially those who were ‘lucky’ enough to score those seats. Despite 1955 being a song written about Adelaide, and how “time moves a little slower here”, the crowd didn’t mind as the Hoods continued to show their love for their home town by introducing Nyassa to do Montaigne’s evocative vocals.
When MC Suffa sang almost the whole of the first verse of I Love It solo, with only a few chords as accompaniment, it was evident this whole experience was a polished performance which showcased the many talents of these Blackwood boys. We were told that many of their family and friends had come tonight, including MC Suffa’s daughter, his brother, and his parents. We were then asked who had come with someone they love, which was a fitting introduction to Won’t Let You Down. The crowd singalong to finish off the song, would have moved even the toughest critic, and ensured everyone was in the best mood for Clark Griswold. When Nyassa sang Adrian Eagle’s hook, MC Suffa went down to the front row and ensured that he greeted as many fans as he could. Ecca Vandal was the next special guest on stage to sing Exit Sign and Be Yourself, with another Adelaidean Timberwolf following closely with Sell It All Run Away.
Counterweight, Live and Let Go, and Higher commenced the latter part of the show, with fans getting their phone lights ready as soon as Through the Dark’s opening chords started. After the song, MC Pressure was visibly moved by the crowd’s reaction, I’m guessing because this song is especially meaningful for him having been written about his son’s battle with cancer.
The Hard Road, Still Standing, I’m a Ghost, and Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom were all performed with as much energy and precision as the rest of the set list, rounding out a very satisfying and powerful show. Shadow and the FunkOars joined the Hoods on stage for the encore of Cosby Sweater and their finale included inviting all special guests and support acts on stage to receive the admiration and applause of a 10,000-strong crowd. Showing that their touring group is considered family as much as their own, and that their love of Adelaide remains strong, the Hilltop Hoods remain one of our most successful and much-loved exports. Another home-town show would certainly have sold out, but I’m sure I speak for all of Adelaide, when I wish them well for the next three months and the rest of their world tour.
Live Review By Kim Burley