French For Rabbits, Kereru New Zealand, 2022

French For Rabbits

31st August 2022
Kereru Community Hall, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

Review by Rob Harbers, photography by Andrew Caldwell.

Bringing a dreamy, relaxing vibe to the Small Hall Sessions, French For Rabbits have gained themselves a few new fans from their appearance in the rarefied arena that is the Kereru Hall, and will no doubt continue to do so over the next few nights of this run.

For this series, the core duo of Brooke Singer and John Fitzgerald are augmented by cellist and player of taonga pūoro Ruby Solly. Her contribution brings interesting textural elements to the French For Rabbits palette, and allows them to lay the ground for next year’s planned collaboration with Chamber Music NZ.

In addition to performing with the duo, Ruby also provided the opening act, with a richly layered performance that captured the essence of taonga pūoro, placing it in a setting that demonstrated the extent to which these instruments are either imitative of natural soundscapes, or complementary to them. An intriguing presentation that held its audience spellbound!

Following the obligatory Small Hall Sessions libations break, the advent of French for Rabbits to the voluminous performance space promised a transcendent experience to which its spectators could only surrender, set adrift on memory bliss. Their set of songs selected to complement the setting proceeded to deliver on that promise, pushing through the barrier presented by a possible ghost in the machine (or a noisy interface with a laptop, if you want to be prosaic about it!). For an hour and change, they set a calming course through highlights of their three albums to date, with some unrecorded (unfinished, even!) songs inserted for good measure, alongside charmingly expressed tales of wardrobe mishaps, the diet of a travelling band, veal love, and gentle pleas for purchase of merchandise to offset unexpected expenditures!

Perhaps unbelievably, Brooke confessed to being unsure of whether there would be much audience for these shows, but such is the power and mana of Small Halls that there will always be a willing gathering. But with such lush, soothing and soporific (in the best sense!) odes to subjects such as anxiety attacks, life choices, stubbornness, and simply getting us through this thing they call life, the combo certainly upheld their end of the bargain.

There are four more opportunities to take this blissful journey at various venues around the Bay – check them out at smallhallsessions.co.nz, and allow yourself to surrender to the peaceful noise!

Were you there at the Kereru Community Hall for this intimate gig? Or have you seen French For Rabbits perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Setlist:
  1. Weight of Melted Snow
  2. The Dark Arts
  3. Money or the Bag
  4. Hollow-Bodied Friends
  5. Leech
  6. I Won’t be Coming Home
  7. The Overflow
  8. Seafarer
  9. Goat
  10. The Other Side
  11. Claimed By the Sea

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. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product using an affiliate link, Ambient Light will automatically receive a small commission at no cost to you.

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