Concert review: Reid & Ruins, The Tuning Fork, 10 October 2020

Not a sound from the packed Tuning Fork in Auckland tonight. As we watch Nadia Reid and Hollie Fullbrook perform their literary, emotionally complex and musically lavish evolved Folk music. As their country-wide tour reaches the City of Sails and Viruses. Can testify to this personally. From the bar at the back, to the stage front where flowers and foliage threaten to spill over into the audience.

Blame fake news and disinformation for the fact that Nadia Reid is on stage and in full flight when I arrive. Nadia has a devoted cult following in the country for several years now. This has spread abroad in recent times.

Out of My Province the album was released in March, just prior to the first lockdown (or the lockdown to end all lockdowns originally). This will feature in the nights first set.

The Future is from this album. A folk song with some Dylan origins. But actually, a lot more Joni Mitchell. The singing is measured, reserved and with no over-stated affect. But playful accenting of lyrics to convey a sly humour. The song seems simple and natural but belies its great craft.

I Don’t Wanna Take Anything from You begins with a shaggy dog story. She finds/adopts/kidnaps a labradoodle who eventually gets named Joni. It sounds like a break-up song, but the sentiment is detached and resigned. The quiet measured tones convey startling soulful feelings. More of Linda Thompson, less of Sandy Denny. At least on this one. Sometimes I look at you/ Think I love you/ No man will ever fall for that.

Heart to Ride is full of love and sunshine and seems dedicated to good men. That’s how it comes across to me. Careful, measured and understated singing. By now the place is well and truly captivated, and we feel the need to hear every word.

Get the Devil Out could be seen as shocking in subject matter. But cathartic and beautiful. So, it floats around in a hypnotic spirit world. You took that razor through your skin/ Not enough that you would die/ Just enough to breathe. Just enough to live and feel ecstatic.

Reach My Destination comes from the earlier Preservation album. The song is cinematic and illusory. A lovely Folk voice and then you hear; there were two little words I used/ One was “fuck”, the other was “you”. A quietly sung emotional story, like Springsteen on Used Cars.

I Come Home to You is also from Preservation. Hollie comes up to play on this. A great Folk song with ringing acoustic guitars and harmony singing.

After a short break and its Hollie Fullbrook. Who has always been Tiny Ruins. Solo, then with a band, then solo again tonight. Band is in the audience and give some sign of encouragement. A Folk singer who also has a reserved and controlled voice. But underlying emotion and idiosyncratic delivery lifts the inspiration level. David Lynch has become a big fan. They have recorded a single Dream Wave together.

Holograms and One Million Flowers is Folk-Pop with observational and humorous lyrics like Ray Davies. A general tone not too far from McCartney’s Blackbird.

Cold Enough to Climb has a mellow and reserved voice which quietly conveys soulful emotion. Nice chiming guitar. All three from last year’s album Olympic Girls.

Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergarden then gives the audience a perfect example of this. The image of Auckland’s best inner-city treasure. The Wintergarden standing in for the dirty old river of Waterloo Sunset

Straw into Gold is Folk Country with a bright melody set around melancholy mood lyrics. Nadia has come back on and both harmonise beautifully.

Girl from the North Country. Nadia plays Johnny. Hollie does Dylan. They do a stunning rendition of this famous duet, again without any unnecessary flash. Both these performers own material is of a quality that the skeletal accompaniment they bring to the stage is the perfect presentation.

Ain’t Got You from Nadia’s Preservation perfectly demonstrates this. A song of lost love. Peaceful vocals but with depth and so becomes Country Soul.

Two great covers to bring the show to stunning close. Lucinda Williams Fruits of my Labour. Don McGlashan’s Dominion Road. Some Country Swing and sunny melodies.

A superlative double set from two Folk artists who certainly have a committed cult following and are on a path to bigger success.

Rev Orange Peel                

Click any image to view a full-size gallery of photos of the show, by Veronica McLaughlin Photography.