The Adelaide crowd slowly drifted into the entertainment centre as a strange wintery chill took hold of the outside. Predictably, much of the crowd dawdled around the centres bar and merch facilities while the first support act, A. B. Original took the stage. Their hard-hitting Boom-Bap flavour went over excellently with the more dedicated early crowd which had already occupied much of the front row space. Making the wise choice to end their set with the familiar tune “Bad Apples”, Briggs and Trials set the mood for the coming acts excellently.
Next up was Irish singer Maverick Sabre, whose plentiful collaborative work with Hilltop Hoods made him a logical choice for a support. Coming at the crowd with a mix of Pop crooning and rapping with some Reggae edge, it became evident that the logical choice may not have been the best one. While his voice is powerful enough to bolster Hilltop songs like “Won’t Let You Down”, his dry stage presence and odd delivery made it difficult for the crowd to warm to him.
Building the tension with a lengthy 30 minute gap, by the time the lights dimmed in the Entertainment Centre the crowd anticipation had reached fever pitch. Expectations were more than met when the curtains drew and revealed an elaborate stage set-up including the entire Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Adelaide Chamber Singers, a drummer in a box and DJ Debris sitting on a platform above it all. Opening with the one, two punch of “Higher” and “Chase That Feeling” the usual vibrancy brought by Hilltop Hoods was doubled by the intensity of the live instrumentation.
The boys definitely rose to the occasion as well, feeding off the energy of the live crowd Suffa and Pressure delivered their bars with tight precision and boundless energy. Suffa flubbing a few lines was easily forgivable as he sprinted across the stage like a madman. Their set consisted off a staggering collection of hits, mainly pulled from their more recent efforts “Drinking From the Sun” and “Walking Under Stars” but with a few welcome detours into older works. At one point they exclaimed “we’re gonna play this one because we want to get out of the building alive” before launching into the raucous fan favourite “The Nosebleed Section”.
Other set highlights included their epic rendition of “Speaking in Tongues” and the sombre “Walking Under Stars” deep-cut “Through the Dark” which saw the entirety of the Entertainment Centre illuminated by phone lights. The show never skimped on theatricality either, with bursts of pyro sending the crowd into frenzy and both Maverick Sabre and Montaigne appearing to fulfil their respective features.
Closing out their huge set with an encore including the unfortunately titled but always crowd-pleasing “Cosby Sweater” and the monumental “Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom”, Hilltop Hoods left nothing but grinning fans in their wake. With an exhilarating live experience which highlighted the group’s appreciation for old-school Hip-Hop dynamics whilst also boasting their unwavering commitment to quality, Hilltop Hoods are a national treasure that should wear their mainstream presence as a badge of honour.