Last week I went overseas to Gore, and this weekend over a different sea, from downtown Auckland to Waiheke, a fairy-tale trip on a smooth harbour on a classic springtime day.
For the matinee concert of Reid & Ruins, matinee because level 2 has required the splitting of the Waiheke fanclub into two, to keep within limits. And what a fine thing that rule turns out to be, as we, the first 100, or, the second 100 to buy our tickets, fit neatly into the delightful intimacy of the Artworks Theatre. Turns out you have to be last to be first.
The stage is adorned in front with big flower arrangements, transported by knee from Raglan, where 180 avid fans piled into the local to hear them. And brought flowers. It’s been that sort of tour, but 1000 people attended the Wellington Opera House. That would have been awesome. But not so intimate.
But it’s our turn, to hear former flatmates, great friends, and fellow alt-folk troubadours Nadia Reid and Hollie Fullbrook, stripped bare, bare of the lavish arrangements and rich production which embellish their recordings, to just Nadia and Hollie, together and alone, acoustic, sharing their songs the way they were born.
Image taken with Iphone
They both come on stage, it feels funny, it’s only 4.30 in the afternoon, they are never on stage at this time. It feels like jetlag. They sing together, one of Hollie’s, from her first Tiny Ruins album, Some Were Meant For Sea, “You’ve Got The Kind Of Nerve I Like”. And you immediately wonder why this doesn’t happen all the time. Reid & Ruins, together at last. Two spectacular voices, two acoustic impresarios, two philosophers of folk, evoking ancient England, travelling troubadours, poets in music and song.
And now for the serious stuff. Who goes first? Well, it’s custom to decide with a game of Paper Scissors Rock, a very adult way to get things resolved. Nadia always wins, so she always goes first. Except for today. So off Nadia goes, and on Hollie stays.
A song about springtime. Folk can be jazz. Joni Mitchell jazz. Sharing days in the sun. “One Million Flowers” A song about a vision of seeing artists only in virtual holographic form, like you might see in a world of pandemic. With Darth Vader adding the apocalyptic analogy. Folk can be catchy, folk can be unconventional, discordant almost, but never less than compelling. “Me At The Museum, You in the Winter Garden”, a sad song from Brightly Painted Lady. A love song, “My Love Leda”, everywhere, from a laundromat to a casino, and a little tuning up plug for Nadia’s socks, the ones she makes, the ones for sale, the ones which are already a socksess. A Wellington song, about the “Adelphi Apartments”, from the first album (the one I don’t have, yet). The title track from the latest record. “Olympic Girls", Hollie’s fingers on the frets, plucking, in scintillating, flowing form.
Nadia rejoins in harmony for “Straw Into Gold”, an emotional, Kleenex moment to end Hollie’s set. Beautiful song. They all are.
How often do you hear a singer/songwriter performing solo, and wish they had a band? Not so much because they struggle with just the song (which sometimes does happen), but because a band can enrich and expand the notion of the song and take it to different places. Tonight, the experience is the opposite, the bands are gone, the songs are spare, unadorned, naked, except for the voice and the string. Stripped bare, to the very essence of the song. And when it sounds like it does tonight, from both of them, it just speaks volumes to the talent and the art at the Artworks Theatre. Art working.
Image taken with Iphone
Now it’s Nadia’s turn, Sandy Denny with a touch of Baez, versus Hollie’s own version of Sandy with a touch of Mitchell. Sounds flowing across the English countryside, ethereal, misty, evocative.
Nadia hits the ground with “runway”, the beautiful opener from her first album listen to formation, look for the signs. Then the signature song from Preservation, “Richard”. A deeply personal song and an epiphany-like relief which resulted from getting the song out. And now back home, to where she never wanted to be, back to Port Chalmers, one main street, two straight lines, going on forever, until she reaches “My Destination” When the songs are stripped back the power of the voice is haunting, existential. Proof. “Heart to Ride”, and then there is a land between “The Future” and where she is heading. And of course the future is this year’s outstanding release, Out Of My Province, as she takes the razor through our skin to “Get The Devil Out”, and we just want more.
But here is Hollie, seeing things in a different light, supporting Nadia in “I Come Home To You”, from Preservation.
Next the first of three covers, with Nadia playing Baez/Denny to Hollie’s Joni, Cash to Dylan, and my goodness, it’s “Girl From The north Country”.
“Ain’t Got You” is gorgeous in harmony, another Kleenex moment, and then some glorious indulgence in covering Lucinda’s “Fruits of My Labour” and Don’s “Dominion Road”
Sensational. Sublime. The folks at the Tuning Fork next weekend are in for a treat.
- You’ve Got The Kind Of Nerve I Like (with Nadia)
- One Million Flowers
- Me at The Museum, You in The Winter Garden
- My Love Leda
- Adelphi Apartments
- Olympic Girls
- Straw Into Gold (with Nadia)
- My Destination
- Heart to Ride
- The Future
- Get the Devil Out
- I Come Home To You (with Hollie)
- Ain’t Got You (with Hollie)
- Girl From The North Country (Dylan & Cash)
- Fruits of my Labour (Lucinda Williams)
- Dominion Road ( Muttonbirds)