Tiny Ruins live at the Crystal Palace with Carnivorous Plant Society and Aldous Harding.
Hollie Fullbrook, Cas Basil and Siobhanne Thompson. Photo: Ben Howe
She’d been vacuuming the cold and cavernous venue earlier in the day, now she’s on stage bathed in golden light and a standing ovation. The natty crowd all dressed up in stylish frocks and blazers lend the whole evening a kind of thrift-store glamour.
Earlier in the show Hollie Fullbrook had kindly thanked Rohan Evans, the man behind the modest sound desk, who’s usually manning the controls at the famous Wine Cellar on K Road, which he founded a decade ago. He brought a few of his loyal staff along to run a somewhat make-shift bar in the compact ante-room of the Crystal Palace. The line-up tonight has a real Wine Cellar feel about it, but instead of bomby couches and a crowd of 70-odd, tonight there’s ten times that number. When the lights go down the ever-so-slightly shabby interior of The Crystal Palace becomes mysteriously grand.
The do-it-yourself Wine Cellar ethos inhabits every aspect of the evening, right down to the home cooked pies. Sadly for Hollie she has to return the pie-warmer at 6.30am the next morning after a terribly short cat-nap on the couch at her old flat in Vermont Street, which also happens to be the home of her entire band, bar producer and guitarist Thomas Healy. Hollie enjoyed several years at this well-known leafy address, the home of the Scholes brothers, Finn and Tam, her long-time touring buddy; bass-player Cass Basil and violinist Siobhanne Thompson. After the show they congregate there spontaneously to celebrate this high water mark in Hollie’s career and I think the Bristol-born, singer-songwriter is still feeling it on this rainy Monday morning. Soon after I get to the office I see those calm and smiling eyes of troubadour Anthonie Tonnon. He looks a little tired too. He was behind the bar at The Crystal Palace, right next to Artisan Guns bass-player Reuben Stephens. Anthonie’s here to help Hollie with a story for RNZ. He was one of many musicians pitching in at the Crystal Palace on Saturday. Clap Clap Riot founding member Dave Rowlands was Hollie’s guitar tech for the night, a luxury she’s still getting accustomed too. “This is my most professional moment ever” she cooed on stage as Rowlands efficiently swapped out an acoustic guitar for another tuned to a more exotic scale.
Earlier in the evening Aldous Harding kept the crowd chuckling between songs and captivated during, as her voice blended beuatifully, almost imperceptably with that of her guitarist and backing-singer Simon Gregory.
Finn Scholes act Carnivorous Plant Society followed. Finn’s trumpet and Tam’s electric guitar taking turns to dazzle and charm. He seemed to be getting on splendidly with his band this particular evening. The fact his musicians/flat-mates had let one of his carnivorous pitcher plants die when he was away on tour a while back apparently long forgotten.
When Hollie takes the stage the only noise comes from the odd clumsy drinker knocking over bottles. The silence is her canvas upon which her band create enchanting landscapes for her well-drawn characters to inhabit. Russian sailors and reasonable men appear and vanish beneath the roof of this brilliant old movie theatre.
The reason Hollie’s visiting Radio New Zealand this morning is to finish a tour diary covering her recent US and European tour with Neil Finn. As well as playing support for Finn, she also joined his band bowing and plucking her first instrument, the cello. As Neil wound up his European dates with a young ensemble that included guitarist Jesse Sheehan, drummer Alistair Deverick and backing vocalist Lisa Tomlins, Hollie began her solo tour of the UK and Europe. The first 24 hours were tough as she was abruptly weaned off the plush hotels and Finn’s experienced tour support staff, but she soon found her form and you can hear all about it on the Last Saturday afternoon this July as she had one of our recorders with her all the way.
Alexis French. Photo: Evan Shay
He's arguably the hottest young trumpet player on the local scene proving himself again and again on stage and academically. He’s just released his first album of original compositions called The Cut and, as Nick Atkinson found out, French found the transition from performing to composing didn’t come naturally.