Reb Fountain – Auckland Town Hall: July 29, 2022

Reb Fountain just may have played her best show to date tonight at the Town Hall. Or it all came together for her with her superlative band, in the iconic venue which has hosted so many great acts.

I was reminded of that by a fan who was telling me the history of the place, and how his older siblings were able to sneak in to the Beatles sound-check back then. The number of great New Zealand artists we have both seen there, and another one joins that rarified company tonight.

Reb FountainShe starts with Foxbright, one of the defining moments of last year’s Iris album. A quiet start behind the piano, the rhythm section eases in quietly. The voice is low and measured, but can leap to the higher angelic folk register as naturally as breathing. Just like Donnie Darko/ You’ve gotta die to dream/ Will I make it till tomorrow?

That movie shares the same hauntings of dread, death and after-life as Twin Peaks. So does her album. This song and others are designed to haunt you. There’s love for you in the mosque lamp, honey. Fountain comes from Christchurch.

Swim to the Star. Cinematic in scope, and dramatic. Laced with guilt-ridden Christian imagery like one major influence, Nick Cave. Equally so Patti Smith.

But where she can lift off from the heaviness and gloom is the sweetness of tone she achieves in her higher piercing voice. She can cultivate the witch Goddess persona of a Stevie Nicks but with a better voice. Maybe in the future with Neil Finn and…?

Jazmine Mary

Jazmine Mary is Jazmine Rose Phillips and is a musical explorer of psychedelic Folk, or dreamy touched with shades of demonic folk music. An Australian who was brought up in the Gippsland area of southern Victoria which has a special prehistoric nature.

They are the perfect foil to be the opening artist tonight.

Seagull Song. A lush gothic folk song. Mentions flower power to add some ironic humour. With them is horrormeister Peter Ruddell from Wax Chattels, playing keyboards and synths and some vocal textures.

Also present is a ghost figure, wrapped in white chiffon and bandages, who dances eerily sometimes. At other times, is just a presence. Mary laughs and tells us she is always with her. Of course, it is her Double. Of the seven components of the Egyptian soul, the one closest to you in physical body, and who must get you through the afterlife. Mary is also dressed in what looks like white chiffon.

Dancer. I’ve lost my body/ Walking around with a belly full of rocks. Spectral and dirge-like.

Follows on naturally to Skeleton. Off to find myself another body/ Hope she loves me more. They are playing a powder-blue electric guitar and adding some twang. Dancing in the Twin Peaks diner. Their voice can get big and scary and a little possessed. They refrain from going into full Diamanda Galás mode.

Melancholia is the general tone. Both of those are off her The Licking of a Tangerine album.

Dope. To Jesus/ So close I could kiss him. A folk song but with a lighter Pop tempo to change the mood and she has a little Patti Smith phrasing in there too. The keyboards sound like a cathedral.

Reb Fountain.

The sound is monumental in the Great Hall and the sound desk can take a bow. It is not just the cavernous bass and bottom. All instruments take their place clearly, and I suspect up in the Gods where I am, we are getting the best of it. That same fan was not impressed with the sound at the back of the room on the ground floor.   

Lacuna builds up to a massive sound. With the addition of some guitar pyrotechnic flash, it underlines the Fleetwood Mac nature of some of these songs on stage tonight.

Samson comes from Fountain’s previous album self-titled album. Starts with a Led Zeppelin mutated-blues intro. Moves into electrified folk and some Beat poetry, Patti Smith fashion.

Psyche is a highlight from the current album. It has a tribal incantatory element of conjuring power in live performance. Builds to a powerful peak. Black death at our heels/ We slept for days.

The violin, played by Dave Khan, introduce both Fisherman and Iris in mournful keening Irish Old-World folk tones.

After they power through Intermission, they come back to finale with Don’t You Know Who I Am. A fiery song with a heart that’s burning. That’s the old Fleetwood Mac. The rap poetry and the way she dances has a witching trance effect. But she belts into this one, and in that moment, she touches on that original rock chick, Grace Slick.

Rock’n’Roll after all.

Rev Orange Peel

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk:    

Reb Fountain:

Jazmine Mary: