Concert Review: Reb Fountain & The Black Quartet: The Boy Next Door Auckland Town Hall April 7, 2021

Combine the voice and presence of Reb Fountain with the songs of Nick Cave and add The Black Quartet and you’ve got yourself one memorable night of live music.

It was on September 22nd, 2017 that Reb Fountain first performed the songs of Nick Cave in the cozy confines of The Wine Cellar in front of about 100 fans.

Fortunately I was there.

Looking back, that evening seemed to mark a turning point in the career of Reb, who, until then, was making a name for herself as a folky singer-songwriter.

Reb Fountain
Photo by Si Moore

But after hearing Reb have her way with Cave tunes such as Red Right Hand, Breathless and Henry Lee, it was clear that there was another side to Reb we hadn’t heard.

That side made itself heard on her most recent album, simple titled Reb Fountain, has changed everything. We watched as she and her band (Dave Khan, Karin Canzek, Earl Robertson) put on a triumphant show at Auckland’s Mercury Theatre, then opened sold-out shows for Crowded House.

Now Reb has come full circle to, again perform the songs of St Nick, this time at the decorous Auckland Town Hall.

With its massive pipe organ reaching high behind the stage, it was impossible not to feel like we were in church (much like Amanda Palmer’s show at St Matthew’s)

Of course there is plenty of religious imagery in Cave’s lyrics so, why not make the most of it.

In addition to the Great Hall, what made this night especially special was the addition of The Black Quartet (violins Jess Hindin and Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper Viola Joe Harrop and cello / vocals Rachel Wells) along with Reb and her band.

So, when the lights went down and the crowd hushed there was a genuine feeling of anticipation.

“This is the moment, this is exactly what she is born to be”.

Nick Cave’s lyrics for Rings Of Saturn, the first song of the first set seemed eerily appropriate for Reb herself.

And while I don’t mean to infer that Reb was born to sing Nick’s songs, it does feel like she has come into her own as an artist.

This was brought to sharp focus at the end of the night when Reb announced, “The truth is, I’m not Nick Cave, my name is Reb Fountain and this is our song”, before launching into a heart pounding version of Don’t You Know Who I Am.

I can honestly say that it was the highlight of a night of highlights.

Second place has to go to the duet of Reb and Dianne Swann on Where The Wild Roses Grow. Dianne as Kylie! Perfect!

As impressive was Reb’s ability to not only remember scads of lyrics (12 verses of Hiding All Away, 13 verses to The Curse Of Millhaven) was her ability to totally inhabit the songs themselves.

Whether it was Red Right Hand, Push The Sky Away or Jubilee Street, Reb was deep into the song.

“I am transforming…I am Transforming…look at me know” she sang…a musical catharsis that reached into the audience.

My understanding is that this was a one-off show. I can’t imagine the hours of work that went into creating the string arrangements, the rehearsal time and the effort taken to memorize those lyrics. Here’s hoping this show happens again.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view photos by Si Moore:

Set 1
  1. Rings Of Saturn
  2. Water’s Edge
  3. Nobody’s Baby Now
  4. Red Right Hand
  5. Breathless
  6. Henry Lee
  7. The Weeping Song
  8. The Curse Of Millhaven
Set 2:
  1. Push The Sky Away
  2. The Ship Song
  3. Where The Wild Roses Grow
  4. Into My Arms
  5. Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow
  6. Hiding All Away
  7. Jubilee Street
  8. Don’t You Know Who I Am