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Gig Review: Tuning Fork Birthday @ Tuning Fork, Auckland - 01/06/2022

03 Jun 2022 // A review by roger.bowie

It’s the Tuning Fork’s birthday although it’s unaware. Inertness. Never mind, let’s pretend it’s a cake, because Tiny Ruins are here and that’s a treat.

And who should we have to open? Oh, let’s ask Finn Andrews, no-one will notice.

And so here we are, a super feast of New Zealand’s most fine, the beginning of winter, and a scattering of tables and stools adorning the room to indicate how many people just don’t know what they’re missing. All the more cake for us.

The now familiar, comforting voice of Finn Andrews settles down in his bodily form at the keys and chords and a Spirit in the Flame emerges, clear and precise and sublime. It’s always magic to see him perform, with or without The Veils, and the contrast is clear but the songs are the same. They just speak differently.

“they’re all made of nothing, they’re all made of stone, they’re all made of something you can’t find on your own”. You need the allure and the mystery of an Observatory telescope to see The Rings of Saturn but we can but listen to the newest Veils song, already mixed and mastered but waiting for vinyl, waiting for vinyl, who’d ever thought that album release dates would be determined by the presence or in this case the absence of PVC, with supply chains disrupted by Covid and in no small way by Mr Putin. There must be a better way

It just takes Time, so let’s be patient and enjoy a song about lists of things that time is and isn‘t. Finn likes lists. They come in long lists of lists and make nice songs. And as he picks up the guitar and shyly reveals impending fatherhood and as a consequence a very happy love song, I see You  could be Leonard Cohen on happy pills and a single as blockbusting as Suzanne.

Agnostic gospel is how you might describe the next song (as he does), but we know it as One Piece at a Time the title track of his recent solo album, for most of us the sole incarnation of Finn here in New Zealand before life grabbed him and kept him and made him bring his Veils home too. And speaking in Veils, here is Swimming With Crocodiles, before he remembers he’s just the opener and runs out of time and we get One By The Venom to close the briefest of sets which is all it takes to convey the greatness of Finn Andrews.

Ok, here comes Hollie and her band, we’re only inches away from the tantalizing tiniest of ruins, as the Olympic Girls evoke not only ancient Greece but a more recent Greyhound bus, taking ex-prisoners home to a real world, not the make believe one they conjured up while watching the Olympics on incarcerated TV. And all at once we’re alive, we sit up, we take notice, this is Tiny Ruins in gleeful adolescence, upping the tempo from album experience to a Fairport like alt-psych folk romp. This band is so hot you can’t touch. Burn your fingers.

I once saw Tiny Ruins perform as openers at Villa Maria, a most inappropriate scenario as the setting sun shone full into their eyes and the sound was lost in the banter of newly arrived punters focussing on much later in the line-up. This is better, this is different, this is redemption.

Tonight we get four new songs, Earthly Things, Daylight Savings, Out of Phase and Dorothy Bay which comes late in the set and is funky and rocky and allows the band to cut even further loose.

But for the most part the songs are from Olympic Girls and some older stuff. “It’s not my passion, just my bread and butter”, it’s my How Much. The single Hollie did with David Lynch, Dream Wave.

And that’s just it. Hollie Fullbrook writes and sings like a dreamy wave, her voice is soft and alluring, safe and reassuring, like the voice of reason that pulls you back from a bad trip. What was once Joni, is now more like Beth Orton, as the acoustic-ness of her recordings is now overlaid by the band. Hollie lays out the palette, chooses the colours, while Tom (Healy) paints wildly on all sorts of guitar, Cass (Basil) daubs on bass and Alex (Freer) dapples and dobs a beat. Tonight, Tiny Ruins is the total psych experience, with or without stimulants, and tonight is the moment when Tiny Ruins becomes a force of nature, arriving somewhere and staying. We get it. It’s ours.

Struck by a feeling wandering through the empty School of Design, fresh paint on the walls, another picture, killing time, this is like being at the art gallery, or maybe they are the museum, and we’re outside in the winter garden. And whoever would count One Million Flowers; or create the kaleidoscope of sounds which is what you might hear from Holograms speaking, possibly about a scooter mishap in far off Zanzibar where the kids wear Darth Vader helmets, and what begins with a whisper always ends with a shout.

Dorothy Bay closes the set, in funky rock style before the pre-arranged encore (don’t make us go out in the cold), which is an old song I didn’t quite get, but out comes Tom’s lap steel again and we are painted into a corner and we don’t want out.

This is where we stay, exhausted, depleted, in absolute bliss, tiny ruins forever.

Happy birthday Tuning Fork, Bob Frisby brought you alive with sound and Brad with light and New Zealand’s finest painted the pictures.

Finn Andrews Setlist

1. Spirit in the Flame
The Rings of Saturn
I See You
One Piece at a Time
Swimming with the Crocodiles
One by the Venom

Tiny Ruins Setlist

1. Olympic Girls
Earthly Things
How Much
Daylight Savings
Dream Wave
School of Design
Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergarden
Out of Phase
One Million Flowers
Dorothy Bay
12. (
old song)

Photo Credit: Chris Zwaagdyk / Zed Pics
View Finn Andrews Gallery here
View Tiny Ruins Gallery here


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