Reviewed on Wednesday July 3
It’s not often that a pub crowd is told they are the quietest audience a band has ever played to. But I guess it’s not very often that gig-goers sit cross-legged on the floor for an entire show. The newly christened live music space at Newtown Social Club was possibly the perfect venue to see the intricate melodies of Tiny Ruins played out onstage.
Aldous Harding and Shining Bird kept both the stage and the crowd warm with gentle, rolling sounds. Shining Bird drew the audience in with their rainforest-flavoured symphony of sounds, combining spoken-word samples with sun-drenched echoes and spaced-out rhythms. The experimental South Coast musos left the stage with swirls of single ‘Distant Dreaming’ still pleasantly circling in everyone’s ears.
The pre-act chatter that followed soon diminished to a whisper when everyone realised the headlining New Zealand three-piece – unassuming and quaintly dressed – had already appeared onstage and were quietly playing their instruments.
Tiny Ruins played the first four songs from their new album, Brightly Painted One, in order, before a mix of delicately woven old and new tunes. Listening to the group on record, it’s easy to forget that the beautiful harmonies and sounds they produce are in fact the work of humans. Although onstage every “ooh” was perfectly poised and no note was out of place, physically seeing Tiny Ruins perform in the flesh – seeing singer Hollie Fullbrook and bassist Cass Basil’s faces contort as their voices reached dizzying heights – made their music that bit more real and relatable.
Fullbrook has a very endearing sense of humour; she told the audience the peculiar story behind ‘The Ballad Of The Hanging Parcel’ (involving an adventurous 10-year-old, a not-so-mysterious rock and string, and a well-kept secret), and she was sure to clear up any doubts about the real sentiment behind ‘Reasonable Man’: “It’s tongue-in-cheek,” she frankly explained.
They closed with the wonderfully crafted ‘She’ll Be Coming Round’, after which everyone had to stand up and come round to the very physical presence of pins and needles. It was well worth it.