Tom Cunliffe and Eamon Edmundson-Wells on double bass opened the night with a selection of melancholic and heartfelt folk songs.
“We’re playing a whole bunch of new songs tonight that none of us know”, warned Reb as she and her hastily-assembled band took the crowd at the Tuning Fork on a journey from traditional acoustic-based folk songs to someplace much more intense and visceral.
Clad in an orange jumper, and armed with an acoustic guitar, Fountain began her set solo. The song, One Way Trip, though unfamiliar, immediately drew the audience in with its cinematic storytelling and a mood that was both resigned and determined.
“Nothing’s gonna make me turn around this time”, she sang with grim conviction.
Following that, the band filled out the stage…the same group of musicians that accompanied her last year… Dylan Storey and Dave Khan on various guitars, keyboards and vocals, along with bassist Ben Woolley and Logan Compain on drums.
They launched into Hopeful And Hopeless, taken from Reb’s EP from last year, and one of the few songs performed that the audience would have been familiar with. Khan’s violin weaved in and out of the mix and Reb gave the song a powerful, straightforward reading, eschewing the usual singalong that usually goes with it.
It was clear that she was anxious to get into the new material, but a bit worried that the crowd, and even the band, might not be quite ready to follow. We were told that several of the musicians flew in last night and they had been rehearsing all day.
As a result, there were a few tentative beginnings to some of the songs, but overall, things fell into place nicely.
As the set progressed, the mood evolved from the breezy Round The Bend… sounding a bit like classic Sheryl Crow…to a darker, more intense Hawks And Doves and Fisherman.
Last year, a few days after playing the Tuning Fork, Reb hosted a celebration of Nick Cave’s 60th birthday at The Wine Cellar, playing the great man’s tunes all evening.
Those songs have stayed with her, both literally (she performed two of them here) and stylistically.
Both Fisherman and Don’t You Know Who I Am are filled with the same punk swagger that infuses Cave’s best songs and Fountain has now included that element into her own music.
Actually, if you pay attention, it’s been there all along, but now that attitude, that willingness to take things further emotionally, is a big part of what made this show so triumphant.
There were a few moments five or six songs in where it felt like the audience might be getting restless, being confronted with so many previously unheard songs, but the one-two punch of Faster and Fisherman turned the tide, and Reb had their full attention.
The two Nick Cave covers were Jubilee Street and Hiding All Away, which closed out the show. In between the two was a powerful version of Gold, the other song taken from her 2017 EP, and a new one titled Lighthouse, which Reb performed solo, on the keyboard.
Its an intimate ballad inspired by her son who is overseas visiting Africa and while introducing it, Reb noted that this was Mental Health Awareness Week.
Opening act Tom Cunliffe joined the band for a roaring version of Hiding All Away, leaving fans buzzing.
It is my belief that Reb Fountain is New Zealand’s best-kept musical secret. Hopefully, with Marlon and Aldous and Tami and Nadia getting international attention, Reb will find a wider audience.
Reb Fountain and her band are heading into the studio next week to record her next album. Judging by the songwriting on display last night, it will be one impossible to ignore.
More images from the show are featured in the photo gallery further below.
Reb Fountain set list:
- One Way Ticket
- Hopeful And Hopeless
- Round The Bend
- Quiet Like The Rain
- Hawks And Doves
- Last Word
- It’s A Bird
- Don’t You Know Who I Am
- Jubilee Street
- Hiding All Away