5 Oct 2022
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Fur Patrol - Gig Review: Fur Patrol @ San Fran, Wellington - 27/08/2022

29 Aug 2022 // A review by Cathy Elizabeth

I finally arrived at San Fran just on 8pm, a little grumpy after spending 30+ minutes driving around trying to find a park in Wellington city, where, like many other cities around New Zealand, the councils have decided to eliminate as many parking spaces as possible with bollards, flower pots, bus stops, loading zones, road works, or just by erecting scaffolding barriers for no apparent reason!! The venue was wall-to-wall full, and I marveled that all these people had managed to find parking spaces also. A small miracle.

Support act Soft Plastics cracked into their set just after 8pm. The gig was running on time and was well-organised, with the friendly door staff easily finding my name on the door. While I never queued at the bar for a drink, my water was poured for me when I went to the water table which was well-stocked with jugs of water and glasses. Empties were regularly gathered and the toilets were clean and tidy. The vibe was good, and the sound was full and intense.

Soft Plastics’ bass-playing singer Sophie Scott-Maunder sounds very Deans-esque in her vocal delivery, and I can see why they were chosen as the opening act throughout the whole tour, as their sound is quite reminiscent of Julia Deans’ aesthetic of her solo work. There's something about those melody lines and chord choices which is so interesting and delicious. Drummer Laura Robinson also comes in with sweet backing vocals in just the right places, and guitarist Jonathon Shirley creates big atmospheric soundscapes with much tremolo, delay, and a touch of distortion, keeping the soundperson on their toes to keep it all reigned in and under control. They can bring it hard when the song calls for it too, with some of the songs reminding me of the likes of Weta; with pulsating bass and driving beat.

Scott-Maunder’s voice rings out clear, sweet, and sometimes snarly, as she rocks out in her girl-next-door look, and the crowd are loving it! As a Wellingtonian myself, I had not heard of this Wellington trio before, and I am glad to have now experienced their live set.

The standing-room-only venue is now full to the back teeth as the crowd eagerly awaits the appearance of their beloved Kiwi iconics. As Julia appeared on stage to much cheering and applause, someone in the crowd yells out Happy Birthday to Julia. This tour is to celebrate the (now) 21 years of Fur Patrol’s debut album Pet, and Julia gracefully accepts the birthday wishes for her 21 (plus a few) years birthday, which just so happens to land on the culmination of this special tour.

The band rips into Andrew to the audience’s delight, but Julia seemed to take a little while to settle in – with her mic being set to the wrong height, and juggling guitar peddles and the solo in the absence of guitarist Steven Wells, who now abides in Paris.

Julia reminisces in between songs, to a time when this place was called 'Indigo' and someone in the crowd calls back - Yes, it’s the same crowd too, we're still here! Welcome back, she laughs, and welcome home!

For the anniversary tour of Pet, the band is playing through the album in its entirety from start to finish. So by the time they have played through Holy and Now, Julia has hit her stride and found her groove.

She then welcomes to stage David Long, who produced the album Pet and is joining them now on guitar for Loaded. It's a fuller sound with the two guitars, and Julia's voice wraps around the room like a warm blanket. Her voice somehow feels very nurturing.

The whole room sings along with Lydia at full pelt, and the band has a lot of fun with that. By Hauling You Around I have fallen in love with Julia’s voice all over again.

The band brings big energy on Not Your Girl, with Julia cutting a stunning silhouette as she jumps around the stage, slamming on her electric. There is something supremely hot about girls rocking out with guitars on stage, and this whole show feels like a celebration of women in music.

I’m wishing she would have stood more centre-stage though, as I’m finding it very hard to see her in the packed room, having ended up on the side with the big speaker which blocks out her head completely. The best view seems to be from the outdoor balcony, which steps up, allowing one to see over the heads of everyone, for a clearer view.

As the set progresses through, the crowd is very appreciative of the deeper cuts of the album, loudly begging the band to keep them coming. And they do!

But alas, eventually the last song is announced to groans of chagrin. Quickly followed by loud cheers that there does exist a bonus track! Julia takes this moment to make a video for the absent band member, and the crowd enthusiastically choruses in - Hi Steve, we love you!!  

Julia is audibly overcome with emotion as she wraps up, thanking the audience for coming out, and everyone who has been involved in the tour. “It's been a wild ride to get here, more than you know.” Aside from the obvious, with Covid delays and multiple postponements, Fur Patrol have reached the final show of their much-awaited and rescheduled tour – a celebration of an iconic and dearly loved album that is firmly cemented in the hearts and histories of countless Kiwis. It is a poignant moment of mixed emotions; sadness, relief, a sense of great accomplishment, and completion.

Band members Andrew Bain and Simon Braxton lead the crowd in a rousing round of “Happy Birthday to you’s” and Julia declares this the best birthday ever, before launching into Bottles and Jars with its atmospheric Portishead-like descending bassline, enchanting vocals, and explosive lift-off.

Even after one last Acapella sing-along rendition of Lydia, the crowd were still not satiated; stomping and clapping for an encore until, most wonderfully, they got one! Many more thanks were issued and Fur Patrol closed out the tour with Beautiful from their debut EP Starlifter.

What a night! Well worth every single minute spent finding a park in the city! Thanks for the memories Fur Patrol. 

 

About Fur Patrol

Though their songs are unerringly catchy, Melbourne based four-piece Fur Patrol are firm believers in the power of simplicity. Their song’s first approach is a grab of full bodied Rock n Roll - an equal sprinkling of post-grunge angst and pre-garage soul, introspective, lyrically cathartic and wrapped up in an instrumental blanket warm and inviting.

For a band that honed their craft in the live arena, Fur Patrol scrub up very nicely in the more structured confines of the recording studio - the powerful track listing on Collider is a testament to both their inherent sense of compositional dynamics and their full throttle approach to life, music and all that falls in between.

Originally hailing from New Zealand, the first taste of this raw potential came with the release of their debut EP Starlifter in 1998, a recording that tapped into the natural interaction between the band members while also showcasing the burgeoning song-writing skills of front woman Julia Deans.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Fur Patrol

Releases

Local Kid
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Long Distance Runner
Year: 2007
Type: EP
Collider
Year: 2003
Type: Album
Pet
Year: 1999
Type: Album
Starlifter
Year: 1998
Type: EP

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