Saturday, July 4
Bic Runga and Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins) had not met until recently. Runga sent the Tiny Ruins singer/songwriter an email expressing interest in touring together, praising Fullbrook’s work and seeking some form of collaboration. That email was a smart move.
Tiny Ruins’ opening set was lovely, if a little samey – Fullbrook’s voice is wonderful and she writes great songs but the kid-gloves treatments mean the songs cling together a little too closely when shuffled onto the stage. The best bits still felt like precious gifts – and it made more sense as one half of an event.
Bic Runga took the stage solo to perform Drive – spellbinding as ever. Then it was through a run of hits from her first three (immaculate) albums. Band members crept onto the stage to augment the line-up and the songs, Runga’s partner Kody Nielson (ex Mint Chicks/Opossom) played energetically and thoughtfully on the drums. And we were treated to Winning Arrow, Listening For The Weather, Get Some Sleep and even the stark Everything Is Beautiful and New from 2011’s slight misfire, Belle.
Midway through Runga’s set Fullbrook was back on stage, and eventually a “supergroup” featuring the musicians from both bands (the two drummers taking turns between the kit and keys) as the Bic Runga and Tiny Ruins songs were held back in favour of an extraordinary selection of covers, songs by Simon & Garfunkel, Yoko Ono, Francois Hardy, Donovan and Fleetwood Mac. Songs that reflected the tastes of the two singer/songwriters and suggested a permanent new band – Tiny Runga? – should almost certainly be spawned from this experiment.
The subtle backing, the range of material, two exquisite voices – it was lovely, charming, gentle and, at times, close to perfect. It also ran to time. Starting right on the button, and home by 10. A rarity in the gig-going world. Just a pity venue staff insight on shining their lights at people taking photos. Sure, the camera-phones are rude and distracting, but there’s an irony when the flash of Unctuous Usher’s torch shames a whole row of people by association, bringing about a bigger distraction.
This review first appeared in The Dominion Post and online at Stuff here