live review

The Ruby Suns, New Media Club, Christchurch

The Ruby Suns, New Media Club, Christchurch

February 20 2010
The New Media Club, Christchurch

Reviewed by Gareth Meade
29th March 2010

The Ruby Suns
Saturday 20th February
New Media Club - Christchurch

Christchurch’s New Media Club is essentially a student common room, complete with couches, vending machine and an overbearing makeshift quality. There is no bar, of course, as this is an all ages show, and the venue itself is emblematic of the crowd present to see The Ruby Suns on their Fight Softly album tour. Of the 100 or so people there, the average age looks and feels about 17, which is worth pointing out when you consider that The Ruby Suns released their debut album in 2005. This doesn’t feel like a fan base, so much as people wanting to listen to some live music and have a good time. Which is a great thing for a band that embodies enjoyment, but also a shame when said band has toured internationally and gained critical success. You can’t help but feel that they deserve more. And yet at no point does it feel like that sentiment is shared by Ryan McPhun, Alistair Deverick or Graham Panther as they emerge from the crowd, take up their instruments and give the crowd exactly what they are here for.

While the night’s set is bookended by tracks from 2008 album Sea Lion, everything in between is almost exclusively from Fight Softly. “Cranberry”, arguably that albums highlight, escalates the tempo following opener Oh, Mojave and all of a sudden everyone that was milling around outside is at the front of the stage, pulling shapes and hopping from one foot to the other. Cranberry’s inherent infectiousness is only intensified by the live drums and bass. Earnestly advising the crowd that they might like to find a waltz partner for the slower “Closet Astrologer”, the sonic shift catches a few people off guard, much the same as the album no doubt will. But they continue to dance and sway, tentative at first and then just as enthusiastically as before.

”Mingus & Pike”, “Cinco”, “Olympics on Pot” and “How Kids Fail” continue in much the same way. The dominant electronics offset by the raw nature of a live band. The songs gain something in this environment that they lack on the album; perhaps a result of being written while touring Sea Lion. Olympics on Pot in particular exaggerates the bass, which sweeps across the room like a tornado.

And then all of that is followed by “Tane Mahuta”, which represents The Ruby Suns more frivolous side. While welcome, it also highlights the nights disjointed set-list. At times the crowd seems to lose interest and thin out slightly (there is even a guy passed out on a couch, but there a probably all sorts of other factors to blame for that). But the one constant is that The Ruby Suns play on, they play well and they receive rambunctious applause for it.

Three songs later it’s over almost as quickly as it began. The Ruby Suns finish with “Kenya Dig it?”, thank the crowd, remind them they can pick up Fight Softly at the door and then descend back into the crowd from whence they came. It’s not as much anticlimactic as unexpected that they don’t play an encore, but the rest of the crowd don’t seem perturbed as they head for the door, obviously satisfied. Which brings me back to my initial point about what The Ruby Suns, who are singed to Sub Pop Records and have recently toured with The Dodo’s, deserve. Thankfully it doesn’t seem to matter to them, as long as everyone is having as much fun as they are. And you can’t take that away from this show.

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