All photo's courtesy of Robert Fisher and Wellington Live Music
Wednesday night heralded the launch of The Homeward Stretch, second release of Rosy Tin Teacaddy, the dynamic indie-folk pairing of Billy Earl (Andy Hummel) and Betty Grey (Holly Jane Ewens). Having previously received glowing reviews for opening performances to Iron and Wine and Jose Gonzalez, the launch more then lived up to the quite emphatic praise.
Mighty Mighty had pulled those fabulous red curtains down half of the room to completely separate the bar from the stage. In the more private half, the tables were pulled forward and floated, adrift, around the central gravity of the stage. It was here that the opening acts played as the audience filtered slowly in – a shame, really, as both acts of Matt Langley, and Jess Chambers with Justin Firefly Clarke were fantastic acts in themselves. By the time Rosy Tin Teacaddy began to play the room had filled and there were people sitting on the ground beside us.
The intimacy of the atmosphere was perfect. The music, in itself, demands it: the themes of love and loss and despair, all delivered with Rosy Tin Teacaddy’s charming mix of playfulness and irreverence, work best with this close and casual proximity of performance. The songs are at turns melancholic and bittersweet, at others imbued with an indelible sense of optimism. Their promotional blurb had had promised “a collection of loosely interwoven vignettes featuring temptresses and miscreants”, and in many ways these stories seem to all play out against the same slightly off kilter, slightly other-worldly, backdrop – songs that exist in a nostalgic part of the countryside, or a quiet corner of the past, or conceivably both. There are Sunday mornings, and sunlit mornings, and sunlit afternoons, too, for that matter. There are departures but there is also the imminent return, because in the songs all revisit, inevitably, the theme of homecoming, of finding – or of re-finding – home.
Rosy Tin Teacaddy’s interactions with the audience were pitch-perfect. The pair addressed the crowd like a group of friends and casual acquaintances (which many probably were), clearly comfortable in front of a crowd. Before their fourth song, Bangers and Mash, Billy Earl reminded the audience of the infamous case of the German cannibal, the man who advertised online for his, er, dining partner.
“In a little way,” Billy said, “the next song is about that. Just a little bit.”
And they go on to sing – eyes wide and with an ironic, angelic demeanor – ‘Serve me up a plate of you/You’re better than/Bangers and mash.’
It’s all really quite touching.
As a duo they were vibrant and engaging. Teamed with a band of four equally polished musicians (Janet Holborow on cello, Shona Holborow on violin, Al Fraser on bass and Ben Fulton on guitar) their music was lively and engaging, a complimentary backdrop to Holly’s stunning voice and the changing, playful nuances of their songs. And although launches of this kind usually attract those already familiar with the music, or friends with the musicians, the applause at the end of the set quite drowned out the Wednesday night clammer from the other side of those red velvet curtains.