Ambient Music

Frank Burkitt Duo, Maraekakaho NZ, 2023

Frank Burkitt Duo

18th January 2023
Maraekakaho Community Hall, Maraekakaho, New Zealand.

Review by Rob Harbers, photography by Andrew Caldwell.

After the hiatus common to many at this time of year, the Small Hall Sessions are kicking off again – playing host to international guests in the form of Frank Burkitt and partner Kara Filbey, collectively known as The Frank Burkitt Duo. And what a way to initiate proceedings, with a pairing so endearing as this!

Formerly resident for some time in Aotearoa, Frank and Kara moved back to their native UK just in time for the full onslaught of privileged twattery that is Boris Johnson – a twist of fate that could cause weaker souls than these to retreat! But they stuck it out, and one of the results is a new album which they have returned to these shores to promote.

Commencing with the eloquent ‘Simple’, telling the tale of two people “going different ways on a one-rail track”, the set progressed to tell tales ranging far and wide in their subject matter. A particular early highlight was ‘World King’, discussing the non-existent virtues of the mop-headed Bullingdon bully referred to above. If you’re familiar with Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer’, you’ll recall the “li li li” interspersions, which were echoed here to describe his habitual mode of operation (“Lie Lie Lie”!) – the perfect summing up of history’s most widely regretted BJ!

Overall, subject matter of the songs tended toward the less happy aspects of life (the “whingey songs”, as Frank described them) but all were delivered in so beautiful a manner as to reflect a remarkable ability to find the seams of gold interweaved through life’s shitty paths. The mark of a truly inspired balladeer, to reflect life back to us, while adding lustre and appreciation. All punctuated with anecdotes and tales of life on the road, enough to make the time fly by!

And so it did – before we knew it, the lights were coming up and it was closing time. But not before enjoying the treat of hearing Kara step out of the harmonising role and in to full voice for ‘No Man’s Mamma’. This provided a tantalising glimpse of what waits in the wings, whetting the appetite for a fuller performance from her – taking nothing away from Frank, of course! A little like having a Bugatti as your regular vehicle, but knowing it parks alongside a Ferrari (but no small dick energy here!).

As is often the case, there’s a lot more I could say, but I didn’t take copious notes, so engrossed was I in proceedings – and in any case, the ever-looming deadline would probably steal away any time to do so! In summary: beautifully, eloquently expressed paeans to life, alongside tales delivered by a true raconteur – hosted by the Macphail family (with virtual family member Olivia). All in the surroundings of some of Hawkes Bay’s most historic buildings. Could there be a much better way to gird the loins for another year?

Go on, get a ticket – you won’t regret it!

Frank Burkitt Duo

Were you there at the Maraekakaho Community Hall for this intimate gig? Or have you seen the Frank Burkitt Duo perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!


Frank Burkitt Duo Setlist Hawkes Bay 2023

Note: Ambient Light was provided passes to review and photograph this concert. As always, this has not influenced the review in any way and the opinions expressed are those of Ambient Light’s only.

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