1 Aug 2021
UsernamePassword

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

French For Rabbits - Gig Review: French for Rabbits @ Bark, Dunedin - 27/11/2020

28 Nov 2020 // A review by Darryl Baser

Port Chalmers songwriter Lucy Hunter opened up the evening with Please Just Break My Heart and Let Me Go. Announcing to the rapidly filling Bark space at Dunedin’s Dog With Two Tails "this is my first [piano] gig standing up".

One of the pals I was with suggested we all sit in the front row, literally less than a meter from Lucy’s keyboard, it was excellent placement. Not only could I see her fantastic black velveteen boots as her right foot operated the keyboard’s pedal, but also saw her phenomenal handy-work on the electric piano.

Hunter is one of the most gifted songwriters I’ve seen in years. She writes lyrically dark songs, but they leave you feeling ok, and are not at all indulgent or morose.

My Lips Are Red But My Heart Is Blue, is a great example of this, she tells the crowd it was written about the day she bought the dazzling red lippy which she’s wearing tonight; "but it didn't cheer me up, though I’m happy now", she quips. This song features the line: "love is a fish hook in my mouth".

Lucy Hunter played an awesome set, closing it with “a longer song, Owls Do Cry”.

She says, as the title suggests, it’s a song about one of New Zealand’s greatest writers, Janet Frame.

Hunter is a great storyteller and Owls Do Cry really highlights this, featuring the line "I'll be licking up my soul off the floor when you go".

I love seeing Lucy Hunter standing up to play, watching the grace of her hands is a huge gift, especially in Owls Do Cry, as there are parts where her hands cross over like she's playing a Domenico Scarlatti piece.

After a 15 minute changeover French For Rabbits take to the stage, the band’s expanded to a 5-piece with home-town Dunedin-born multi-instrumentalist Penelope Esplin being the most recent addition to the band. Esplin is so local, her mum’s doing the door for the evening, and rumour has it, the band stayed at her place.

Front woman Brooke Singer says Hi, and tells the polite and quiet crowd: "we're going to play some old songs and some new ones," before opening with Goat which features the fabulous, if a little brutal, lyric: "I won't be the first to say I'm sorry, even if it's my fault."

Right from the first few songs you can see there's clearly a good feeling between band members.

They follow with Claimed By The Sea, which Singer describes as their oldest song, written about 2010/2011. Singer and Esplin's voices harmonise really beautifully, then add in bass player Ben Lemi’s warm tones as well, and you have beautiful three-part harmonies.

The band has been writing recently following 2017’s The Weight of Melted Snow LP, and the first of a few new songs for the evening is The Dark Arts, which Singer says is “due to be released soon", my immediate thoughts are damn what a song, track it down when they release it, I'm putting my name down for the review now.

The overflow follows, with Singer describing it as "a song about anxiety," it’s probably the happiest song about mental illness I've ever heard.

I’ve mentioned the band’s on-stage chemistry before, and the smiles between band members, and band and the crowd, continue through the set.

While listening I try to look at all band members, but my eyes were drawn to drummer Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa. I love watching expressive really great drummers, and Hikurangi is a stunner. He makes complicated look and sound easy and fun.

Nothing says Kiwi music like referencing classic NZ telly, Brooke Singer kicks it really old school with another new song, Money or The Bag, which she says is based on the 1970's/80's game show.

Home town woman Penelope Esplin has played keys, and bass while singing harmonies during the show, then swaps to her third instrument of the night, electric guitar, for what Singer says is "a love song called The other side". The song proves to be a stunner, warm and anthemic, like some of their other songs it builds up, ebbing and flowing like high tide at Lyall Bay or on Petone foreshore.

The band leaves stage, some easier than others (Hikurangi almost seeing the humour in getting tangled up in his cables).

After the shortest of breaks they return, to play The Outsider which is another new song, and features Hikurangi triggering a reversed sample on a Roland Octopad which adds another depth to French For Rabbits’ lush sound.

A top shelf evening of quality music. My only regret: I didn’t buy an LP or shirt.


Photos courtesy of Andrew Mackay / Kea Photos

 

About French For Rabbits

Hailing from New Zealand, haunting dream-folk duo French For Rabbits have been quietly building a reputation for their sad yet brave songs. Since releasing their debut EP Claimed By The Sea in March 2012, they have gathered a dedicated fan-base around the globe with handwritten letters and home-assembled albums.

The authenticity of their songs and their engaging live shows has resulted in student radio play in New Zealand, support in the UK from BBC 6 presenters Gideon Coe, Tom Ravenscroft and The Shed’s Mark Coles, and a nomination for Best Folk Album of 2013 for the New Zealand music awards. They have also received funding from NZ On Air for a single and video due out later this year.

Brooke Singer, who is the fragile voiced songstress and writer for the duo, began performing with guitarist John Fitzgerald in 2011. Determined to overcome an acute fear of singing in public, the pair shifted to Wellington from their hometown of Christchurch and set about tentatively performing at an intimate open mic at a local café. They have since toured nationally in New Zealand, and played alongside the likes of Jess Chambers, Darren Hanlon and Tiny Ruins.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for French For Rabbits

Releases

The Weight of Melted Snow
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Spirits
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Claimed By The Sea
Year: 2012
Type: EP

Other Reviews By Darryl Baser

Miss Leading - Album Review: Minor Thing
23 Jul 2021 // by Darryl Baser
When reviewing albums by artists you’ve never heard of can be a lottery, sometimes you don’t quite ‘get’ the album, and sometimes you’re like ‘wow’. Minor Thing by Miss Leading is totally in the ‘wow’ category.
Read More...
Gig Review: Drax Project @ Dunedin Town Hall, Dunedin - 02/06/2021
04 Jul 2021 // by Darryl Baser
Auckland based singer AACACIA was onstage and singing with her band as many people walked in at 7:25pm ahead of the advertised start time. In 2019 AACACIA posted a clip asking to play support to Drax Project, and last night she did.
Read More...
Reuben Hudson - Single Review: Baby Bedside
23 May 2021 // by Darryl Baser
There are many things which can derail a musician’s career, although Reuben Hudson’s reasoning may be a little less common than most. He had kidney transplant surgery in 2020.
Read More...
Vann Dizon - Single/Video Review: Let You Go
08 May 2021 // by Darryl Baser
Wow. Beautifully written, lyrics with heart, the composition is top form, and the production sets this song as a potential chart topper.
Read More...
Jiahu Symbols - Single Review: Northern Exposure
17 Apr 2021 // by Darryl Baser
An interesting song, Jiahu Symbols' Northern Exposure opens with a guitar swathed in chorus, maybe a little tremolo, with a couple of bars before the song crashes into life. The verse structure is played a couple of times, before Andrew Murray-Brown begins singing.
Read More...
Gig Review: The Veils @ Dive, Dunedin - 08/04/2021
10 Apr 2021 // by Darryl Baser
Purple Pilgrims take to the stage. There's a round of polite applause after their first song, and half way through their second, I start to hear a very 4AD sound; think Cocteau Twins, circa the Iceblink Luck period.
Read More...
Gig Review: Elemeno P @ Mornington Tap House, Dunedin - 25/03/2021
27 Mar 2021 // by Darryl Baser
The opening act Marlin's Dreaming slide into a well-chosen opening number. Opening with gently strummed chords, and a drum machine, which the drummer synced with well when he came in.
Read More...
The Infinity Chamber - Single Review: No Honey (Anymore)
22 Mar 2021 // by Darryl Baser
For those of you who aren’t amongst the 1340 subscribers to his YouTube, or the nearly 47,000 who follow his Facebook page, The Infinity Chamber is Dylan Paul Ware. PC, or Pre-Covid, he travelled in the true style of a troubadour, spending time in many countries across Europe, which is kind of documented in one of the lyrics in the song; "…it’s just my old guitar and me..
Read More...
View All Articles By Darryl Baser

NZ Top 10 Singles

  • STAY
    The Kid LAROI And Justin Bieber
  • BAD HABITS
    Ed Sheeran
  • BEGGIN'
    Måneskin
  • GOOD 4 U
    Olivia Rodrigo
  • INDUSTRY BABY
    Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow
  • KISS ME MORE
    Doja Cat feat. SZA
  • HEAT WAVES
    Glass Animals
  • AIN'T S**T
    Doja Cat
  • LEVITATING
    Dua Lipa feat. DaBaby
  • MONTERO (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)
    Lil Nas X
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem