One of Australia's most iconic voices and with legions of fans worldwide, multi-instrumentalist, surfer and social activist Xavier Rudd is coming to the Bay of Plenty for the first time next week - and the show has already sold out.
With thousands clamouring to see the popular singer, there are some tickets remaining for his appearance at Waimauku's Spirit Festival this weekend, as well as two more gigs next week in Wellington and Christchurch.
Rudd is looking forward to play at Mount Maunganui's Totara Street live music venue, and although the dates for this NZ tour are tight, he hopes to get a chance to explore and enjoy some of what our region has to offer.
Hailing from Australia's surf hotspot Torquay, Rudd kick-started his career in 2002 with the now classic album To Let, before going on to release seven more studio albums over the next 13 years.
Six years have gone by since his last solo release, Spirit Bird, and a lot of things have happened in that time. His latest solo album Storm Boy tracks the last six years of his journey.
Environmental work, activism, veganism, spiritualism, surfing, family camping trips in the bush and dog walks on the beach; everything Rudd does, he pours into song. The result is a personal sound that strikes a universal note.
Touring intensively all over the world, and playing to crowds of more than 50,000, Rudd is on a career high. Dealing with severe back pain from three herniated discs, and hospital stays for a disc replacement and spinal fusion surgery a few years ago, put a spanner in the works for a while but he is happy and determined to give his all for the upcoming tours.
"I'm actually having more surgery after the New Zealand tour. It's been a juggling act, but there's always a positive side and I've learnt a lot through this journey about taking care of myself and not taking my health and my body for granted," he says.
"Playing shows, sharing energy, putting smiles on people's faces who need it, and experiencing and sharing cultures are some of the many things I give thanks for. If I was to start whingeing and whining about negative things, I feel like I'd be taking my blessed existence for granted. I have a great life," he says.
Enjoying newfound health and happiness is in part thanks to the support of his wife Ashley Freeman, who he married in 2016.
"I am blessed to have a partner in this life who is supportive and inspirational at the same time. People come along on our journey when we are ready sometimes," he says.
Rudd's latest album Storm Boy was released just over a year ago, and his love of reggae and blues comes forward strong in the recordings. It brings some new concepts along with some familiar flavours, and he says that people seem to enjoy it so far.
"I've had a great career of mucking around with different sounds, so every record you learn a little bit here and there. The album, like all my albums, is inspired by life and its many blessings and tests over time." The artist tours and travels all over the word, with a huge European tour coming up straight after his New Zealand tour.
He says he is lucky enough to travel to so many amazing places around the world with his music.
"I love all the different cultures. Every day you wake up to a new language and lifestyle. I always found that fascinating coming from Australia, as it is a single continent where predominantly one language is spoken most of the time," he says.
One place he says he has always loved, and doesn't get to visit often enough, is New Zealand.
"I have a lot of respect for not only the aesthetic wonder that is New Zealand, but also for its culture, the respect for Māori culture that exists in New Zealand, and how it is held in high regard by the country and the education system," he explains.
Rudd hasn't been to Tauranga before, but says he hopes to get some time to go out and explore the Bay of Plenty.
"Every time I go to New Zealand, there's always a new treat. I've got heaps of Kiwi friends. They are the coolest people on the planet, and I'm really looking forward to this tour."
What: Xavier Rudd — NZ Tour
Where: Totara St, Mt Maunganui
When: Monday, March 4, 6pm
OTHER TOUR DATES
Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 7:00 PM
NZ Spirit Festival, 110 Woodhill Park Rd, Waimauku
Tuesday, March 5th, 2019
171 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington
Wednesday, March 6th, 2019
UCSA Events Centre 90 Ilam Rd, Christchurch