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Tuesday Poem: What it’s Like, by Fiona Farrell, + Terrible Photos of Terrific Rosy Tin Teacaddy, Jess Chambers gig

25 Jan

What It’s Like

Well, it’s kind of like
you’re hanging over a
steep drop, fingers
cracking on some old
root or other and below
there’s sand or river,
boulders worn to solid
spheres, and you say to
yourself, ‘Now, I could
let go.’ And what do
you know?

You do.

And then, it’s kind of like
singing with your feet off
the pedals, bush lining a
damp black road downhill
to the corner and a creek
like a crowd hanging about
in dappled shade for you
to whistle by.

And then, it’s kind of like
lying on a hillside, sun
full on and a gum tree
rattling away like streamers,
and there’s a whole kind of
shining party going on,
and you’re at it.

– Fiona Farrell. From The Inhabited Initial (AUP, 1999); I got it out of Essential New Zealand Poems (ed. Lauris Edmond & Bill Sewell) (Godwit, 2001).

I like this poem tremendously, but I didn’t actually want to post it today; I wanted to post a poem about music to go with the rest of the post, but I absolutely could not find a thing I liked, which is all kinds of infuriating. Do any of you know any great poems about music? I don’t know if I can say anything thoughtful about this poem, except that it fills me with a feeling of anticipation – it has a tremendous power to evoke in me exactly the feelings it describes, which I think is a the best gift a poem can give. It takes tremendous skill, to my mind, to use words like this: an elegant, transparent window into emotion, so the words almost disappear in front of the feeling. It’s also a wonderful exercise in simile.

The Soundshell at night

I inflict on you my terrible gig photos!

So, last night I went to an awesome gig with my best friend. It was part of the ASB Gardens Magic series, actually a raincheck from Sunday night, when it rained and rained hideously and therefore was not a good night for an outdoor concert. The ASB Gardens Magic (terrible name, yes) is an annual series of free concerts Wellington has every year in the Soundshell, an outdoor venue in the Botanical Gardens. It’s accompanied by a basic but very pretty lighting show (I loved the neon nikaus this year) and, of course, BUBBLES to entertain the kiddies. And me.

this is my best bubbles photo. don't laugh!

Anyway, last night was a significant improvement on Sunday’s weather, so I headed down there after dinner with a picnic of nectarines, bananas, and terrible, terrible, delicious chocolate. (It was really bad chocolate but I couldn’t even bring myself to care.) Also my friend brought a half-eaten package of roasted, salted chickpeas (an OK snack if you can’t eat any other kind, which she can’t; I didn’t even know they *did* roasted, salted chickpeas) and delicious juice, so basically it was a lovely evening. Jess Chambers opened from 7pm.

this is the only photo I got of Jess because at this stage I didn't realise my camera could zoom way more if I turned the flash off.

I have to say I was really excited to see Jess Chambers, because I’ve never seen her play before. On the whole, however, I wasn’t that thrilled by the gig; Stringing Me Along was heaps of fun, I liked Reaching for the Moon too, and she did a few covers (Elvis Presley Blues, notably, a cover of Gillian Welch-or-possibly-Jimmy-Buffett-I-can’t-tell-who-wrote-it-first) that went off really nicely. On the whole, though, I found her a bit downbeat, I think she needs to pick it up a little when performing live (instead of slowing it down, which I’m pretty sure she did for Reaching for the Moon and Island, a song I love) and especially for this kind of show which wasn’t exactly intimate.

She was followed by Rosy Tin Teacaddy.

doing My Cup of Tea

cellist whose name I didn't catch and Betty

Billy on left and cellist on right, obscured by some random.

Billy, Cellist, Betty, I think this is during Telegrams and Ashes? IDK

I have seen Rosy Tin Teacaddy perform probably like ten times, and I think this gig was easily my favourite ever – although, to be fair, it had a lot going for it. I first saw them perform a few years ago (after some googling, must have been 2007) when they played some gigs my best friend’s brother, who’s in a couple of Auckland bands (The Broken Heartbreakers and Bond Street Bridge) was also playing in. I liked them a lot and instantly fell in love with a few songs. I saw them play a few more times in similar gigs, and then moved on to seeing them play solo. Early last year I saw their hilarious/weird show at Bats, which was a very good time and introduced a bunch of new songs they’d written in a DOC tramping hut up by Lake Tarawera. It also confirmed my opinion that they are the most twee indie folk band, not just existing, but even possible; look, when you’re drinking a cup of tea and using that for sound effects, not to mention sifting a whole lot of flour all over your set, also to provide sound (plus, obvs, AMBIANCE), I mean, it just can’t be beat. (Also their stage names are Billy Earl and Betty Gray, a joke which embarrassingly I didn’t get until like, a month ago. Also, their band name? Totally a reference to Under Milk Wood.) Then I saw them do bits from the new Bats repertoire a couple of other times last year (I think, off the top of my head, once at Happy and once at Meow).

wish this photo were sharper ...

Last night, I guess because it was quite a long time for them to play (about an hour and a half), they did a lot of their new repertoire and a lot of their old repertoire, which I hadn’t heard for ages, plus some songs I didn’t know, and basically it was just a really rewarding concert experience! I said to my friend before they started playing, “I really hope they play Deliverance tonight”, and they did – and they also played Chestnut, which I totally did not think they would, and Crossword, and Telegrams and Ashes which is easily my favourite song from the new repertoire – and it sounded absolutely incredible with the cellist; there’s a cellist on their first album, but I’ve never seen them perform with one, and it made some of the songs seriously chilling, and others just gorgeous. AND AND AND look okay, it was an AWESOME show. It was so interesting to compare them to Jess Chambers, and to my memories as well, because they’re clearly now much more confident, experienced performers; their stage patter has improved leaps and bounds, so has their presence.

They did this one last night, but way more upbeat, which I really liked.

I’m not wild about this video, but I love this song.