Once upon a time, just over 20 years ago, Rikki Morris recorded a young 14 or so year old schoolboy, for the first time, in his studio in Takapuna. That schoolboy was Finn Andrews, and one can imagine a nervous, shy young man taking the first tentative steps towards what, he would not then know, has become his life and his career.
And tonight, here he is, stripped bare to the bone, solo at the Tuning Fork. It must have been very similar all those years ago, apart from the body of songs he has since created, firstly as leader and principal songwriter and singer for the Veils, and then more recently as a solo artist based here in Auckland.
But of course, tonight he is different, essential as opposed to barely so, a respectful, supportive crowd in a finely Tuned level one Fork, everyone seated, relaxed, scarcely believing live music is back. And solo, with keyboards and guitar, and when you are solo all you have is the song. The song is your friend, your lover, your harshest critic. When you are on your own it’s all about the song. And the song loves your voice, because you render it as it was when you first created, so your voice is also your friend and your enemy, but only if you falter, and Finn’s voice doesn’t falter. Certainly not tonight.
But before Finn comes on stage, Eddie Castelow does the same thing as an entrée, strips himself back from his Dictaphone Blues, and renders a compelling set of songs with his guitar as accompaniment, until its red light flashes and signals it’s a tired little puppy, and he needs to borrow the keyboards to finish his set. Some new songs on show tonight, and early nerves recede as he builds, and the audience warms to his melodies. “it’s hard to stay angry at someone so heavenly” he shares in the opener, Baby It’s For You. For me this is a warmup, my first encounter (ashamed to say) but the promise is real. Rich voice, tenor range, sounds like: Edwyn Collins comes to mind. And I look forward to the next record, where these songs will be embellished and polished.
Edward Castelow Set List:
- Baby it's for you
- When your simulation crossed mine
- What you wanted you got
- When your tears have dried
- Swift Goodbye
- Slumber eyes
Finn Andrews takes the stage to polite applause. Lockdown hangover, are we allowed to be loud? He’s chatty, but trademark reserved. How does an artist’s mind work? Ebb and flow. Some of it necessarily rehearsed, because otherwise the stream of consciousness flows anywhere. That’s where songs come from. But lockdown has been strange, and he finds himself obsessed with Time, And he’s been writing new songs, one about Time, another about memories of Amsterdam .
And then we start what I have been expecting to be a run through of his solo album from last year, One Piece at a Time. One by the Venom, and then a reference to his lockdown Zoom conversation with Marlon Williams, where they chat and do one of each other’s songs, in Marlon’s case, “an upsettingly good version” of The Spirit and the Flame.
But that’s it, almost, for the solo album. What we now get is a run through the Veils catalogue with songs which I’m sure most of us have never seen performed live, starting with a bluesy acoustic version of Nux Vomica’s opener Not Yet. Swimming with the Crocodiles follows, and another new song about invisible things before returning to Nux Vomica and Under the Folding Branches. This is magic.
Now, who knows what a scaphoid fracture is? Come on, we’ve all banged away at the keyboards so hard it breaks our wrist and the bone dies? Haven’t we? Haven’t we? Yeah…..right, but that’s what happens when the tortured artist gets carried away, as Finn did on last year’s European tour, banging away relentlessly on Axolotl. The bone may die, but the music plays on (what a horrible line, Bowie, stop that!).
Sun Gangs and The Tide that Left and Never Came Back from lesser known Veils’ albums, and a couple more new songs, including the recently released White Winged Bird.
Encores, One Piece at a Time, before a special moment to close the show, a lockdown moment of visiting other people’s songs and this one is the hauntingly beautiful Song to the Siren, written by Tim Buckley and covered in 1984 by This Mortal Coil and by Sinead O’Connor in 2012.
Welcome back live music. And Finn Andrews is a fitting renaissance for me, and a new discovery for my mate. Every day’s a school day. Finn is back in October with a full band, and if this set is any indication we’re in for a feast of old and new. Rikki Morris must be as proud as Finn’s dad no doubt is of the shy little schoolboy from Takapuna.
Great sound work from Tracey. Great and attentive service from the Tuning Fork.
Finn Andrews Set List:
- Time (new song)
- (Dance Me Through) Amsterdam (New Song)
- One by The Venom (One Piece at A Time)
- Spirit & The Flame (One Piece at a Time)
- Not Yet (Veils song from Nux Vomica)
- Swimming with the Crocodiles (Veils, Total Depravity)
- The World of Invisible Things (New Song)
- Under the Folding Branches (Veils, Nux Vomica)
- Axolotl (Veils, Total Depravity)
- Sun Gangs (Veils, Sun Gangs)
- Confluence of Rhythms (New Song)
- White Winged Bird (New Song)
- The Tide That Left and Never Came Back (Veils, The Runaway Found)
- One Piece at a Time (Solo Album)
- Song to The Siren (Tim Buckley)