San Fran, Wellington
Sunday, November 1
Reb Fountain sold out the Wellington show of her nationwide album-release tour so she was back the next night in a different venue. Awesome work here – by the venues and the band, giving the music to more people, agreeing to share the load, and obviously fit things in and around schedules. Sunday afternoon came and went as per normal for a lot of people in Wellington but in Cuba Street the lights went out and the power was down for the majority of the afternoon and early evening.
The San Fran had no way to keep drinks cold and no lights to turn on – and worse than that even, no way to plug the amps in, until about 7pm.
But, miraculously, the show must go on. And it did. And in 2020 we are used to adapting, to going with the flow, to being grateful we’re allowed to do whatever it is we’re doing. The return to live shows – it’s still a novelty! – is something that the audience and performers are enjoying. It’s, presumably, saving venues (again). But there’s a deeper connection being felt between the people in the crowd and the ones on the stage.
Reb Fountain has always been one to feel that deeper connection, to explore it, in some cases to be the one that makes it. I’ve long thought of her as one of our greatest song-communicators. She’s developing all the while as a writer, she’s been a strong singer – whether it’s her project or if she’s just somewhere in the mix singing BVs or sharing the gig – and she’s a more than competent musician. But her absolute skill is the way she lives and breathes and then sells the song. She has something. She wants you to have it, to share in it.
The new album is great and brings with it a development of her sound, less of a reliance on anything allegedly alt-country, more of a way of taking her brand of torch-balladry through wind-kissed and battle-bruised arrangements to make a brand of adult contemporary pop music that is both charming and disarming.
For this show and tour she leads a fantastic band. They care as much about these songs and the job of music as Reb does. They are there to serve these songs rather than to showcase themselves. It also doesn’t matter whether the song has been created by Fountain (Don’t You Know Who I Am) or a cover of something from deep within the Nick Cave canon (Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow) – everyone on stage knew the right thing to do at any turn. Reb’s got this. She’s the song-communicator, she stalks the tune and puts herself right in the middle of it. She then takes it to the people, her people. Those there to see and hear and feel this. She was grateful to have an audience, particularly this one – enduring lockdowns and rescheduling (of life in general and many, many show) and nearly unable to be there tonight due to the venue’s battle with the power outage. But it all came together. She was grateful. The band was slow-burn perfect. And we were delighted. We’d been cuddled by music, we’d been treated to a clinic by a deep-connecting spiritual conjurer. We were in the hands and heart of someone that cares.
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