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Live review: French for Rabbits and Fraser Ross

Monday 20th July 2015

French for Rabbits and Fraser Ross were the perfect antidote for a freezing Saturday evening.

The wooden-floored Wellington Newtown Community Centre was an excellent choice to host the evening’s music, allowing the gig to be communal and family friendly, but also providing nice acoustics for the vocal talents.

French for Rabbits opened with a track from their first EP, Claimed By The Sea, and despite having a cold, singer Brooke Singer’s voice was tuneful and elegant. Her vocals have a real strength which carry the songs forward and show off the beauty of her lyrics. Alternating between husky and moody, she progresses to high notes with ease.

Playing several new songs, the performance had a nice variety of musical tones and moods. Guitarist John Fitzgerald provided subtle accompaniment which mingles with Singer’s voice sweetly. Accompanied by bassist and backing vocalist Ben Lemi, French for Rabbits had a pleasant, cosy chemistry, and Singer was comfortable chatting with the crowd, who were immersed in the music and created a supportive, attentive environment.

After French for Rabbits graciously took their leave, artist Deano Shirriffs appeared on the stage, explaining that he had lost a bet with Ross, and as a result, was required to tell a story onstage for the duration of the tour.

Shirriffs made for a mesmerising storyteller, weaving a witty tale which involved him walking his goddaughter to kindy and saw him heading off to the cricket. Unfolding unexpectedly and delightfully, Shirriffs was a wonderful addition to the night, perfectly reflecting the musical tone through his heartwarming story.

WATCH: Fraser Ross perform at RNZ studios

Fraser Ross, who has recently returned from Scotland and had apparently been banned from the Newtown Community Centre for two years on an account of a previous performance, was on good form. Arriving onstage wearing a particularly splendid shirt, Ross quipped: “Can you hear me over my shirt?”

“Nah, turn it up,” yelled back an audience member.

Bringing his soulful and folky talents, Ross performed an excellent rendition of ‘Sweet Kisses Silver Flowers’ with accompaniment from Jeremy Desmond, who added backing vocals and guitar skills.

Ross has an excellent voice, communicating the beauty of his simple, visceral imagery with steady and sincere vocals.

His music, which has traditional folk roots, has a wonderful way of breaking free from genre to mingle with a variety of different styles. He created an atmosphere that was comfortable and homey and filled the Community Centre with warmth and elation.

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Elizabeth is a journalist from Wellington currently living in Melbourne. She would appreciate it if you tweet her puns @Eliz_Beattie
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