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Concert Reviews

Concert Review: The Broken Heartbreakers

Where: The Wine Cellar
When: 22 Jan 2021
Roger Bowie

The Broken Heartbreakers are a band of considerable pedigree, having released three albums over 10 years, with the most recent now playing on my system courtesy of a very pleasant sale from merchandise desk troubadour Nadia Reid. Dunedin folk supporting Dunedin Folk. The core of The Broken Heartbreakers are a couple/duo, Rachel Bailey and John Guy Howell, who covers as a less grumpy, no, jovial Van Morrison in his little pork pie. John hails from Dunedin while Rachel was born in Ireland, and their musical journeys collided in the mid 2000s and diverse influences settled into the dreamy, jangly, psych tinged folk rock which we are about to hear live. Unbeknownst to me, of course, at this point in time. I’m just reflecting on the talent in the audience which must speak to respect, and therefore a heightened sense of anticipation after  a last minute decision to buy a ticket and come out on Friday night to one of my now favourite music havens, The Wine Cellar.

Before that curiosity is satisfied, a grizzled veteran gets up and fiddles with his computer and console and gives us twenty minutes or so of ambient drama which by his own admission is far from the genre we are about to hear, but if you close your eyes and let the sound wash over you, there is a sense of transportation to a different place. It’s Rosy Parlane, who has a real name, but let that not sully the evocative sense which matches the moniker to the music, and if you feel inclined to search, you will discover not only the real name but also the pedigree. Well, it’s not for me, but it’s not intolerable either. And the sad thing is the train stops just as it’s taking you out of the station. There isn’t a set list, there isn’t a song, there is just a dream, perchance……


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Tonight The Broken Heartbreakers are augmented by  Craig Monk on guitar/violin, Angus McBryde on bass and Paul McLennan-Kissel on drums and the five piece deliver an accomplished set of new songs intermingled with selections from their earlier work. It would seem this is a re-emergence of sorts, after several years of living survivors’ lives and bringing up kids in Dunedin. Hence the interest from Auckland’s music community who remember their Wine Cellar days of old which included collaboration with the late Sam Prebble.

Rachel has a piercing Irish voice which mixes Sandy Denny with Carla Jorgenson, and in fact the overall sound reminds me of The Walkabouts, the Washington State band which featured Carla and her partner Chris Eckman in the 80’s and 90s. Folk and rock and pop and a touch of psychedelia-tinged jagged guitar which darkens the mood and interrupts the flow and arrests our attention and takes us elsewhere. George Harrison and CSNY creep into the frame but it’s just very pleasant and alternative and although I must say I don’t think tonight finds them in top form, the songwriting is enough to convince that this is a band to remember even if I’ve forgotten to remember them in the past. It’s never too late. There’s a hint of new recording in the winds, with all these new songs, and I will patiently wait. Unbroken by the Heartbreakers.

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Set List:

  1. Count Us In (New Song)
  2. My Sense of Wonder (2015)
  3. Don’t Even Think About Leaving (2007)
  4. Calling Card (2010)
  5. Come on Home (2007)
  6. Angela (2007)
  7. And Now the Time Has Come (new Song)
  8. Me and Magdalena (New Song)
  9. We’re all Looking Up (New Song)
  10. Now That You Know (New Song)
  11. The Hand That’s Dealt (2010)
  12. I’m Not Dead (2015)
  13. Cry (2015)
  14. Somebody, Please (2015)
Written By: Roger Bowie Roger Bowie has been collecting music since 1964, starting with 45 rpm singles, and then building an LP and CD collection from 1970. 1.8 per week since then. Not a vast collection, but eclectic and occasionally obscure. Roger is a big Americana fan, and regularly attends AmericanaFest in Nashville, held every September. Also, he once played golf with Alice Cooper...