Reb Fountain + Blair Jollands @ Water Rats, 328 Gray’s Inn Road, Kings Cross, London
Tuesday 15th November 2022
Reb Fountain was born in San Francisco and moved to New Zealand where she is now based.
Her debut album “Like Water” was released back in 2006, followed by “Holster” in 2008, “Little Arrows” in 2017, “Reb Fountain” in 2020 and “Iris” in 2021.
I didn’t personally become aware of her music until early in the first lockdown when I heard “Don’t You Know Who I am”
Being fashionably late, had the benefit that I had the pure pleasure of working my way through her back catalogue. One of the few highlights of the pandemic!
Her self-titled album, her first for Flying Nun records, was so good that I felt it’s going to be one of those career high albums, where subsequent releases never quite capture that same magic – and yet incredibly, I was proved completely and utterly wrong and 2021’s Iris if anything managed to be even better.
During those dark moments of the pandemic, I wondered whether gigs would ever come back, and if they did, whether Reb would ever make it to the UK.
Thankfully gigs did return and Reb announced a EU/UK tour supporting Marlon Williams this year!
Of course after punching the air, I spotted it was October, and right away I knew it would be the week we were away on holiday!
So when Reb was in Manchester I was in Edinburgh, when she played Glasgow and I was still in Liverpool. Oh well, maybe next tour!
But then, as luck would have it, she announced a headline gig at London’s Water Rats.
Whilst at first it seemed like an impossible dream – 2 days off work, train fares and travelodge during cost of living crisis just wasn’t going to happen, no matter how much I wanted to catch the show.
But then I had an idea – I checked the National Express website and there was a coach from Golders Green to Liverpool at midnight for about £30, getting into Liverpool for 6.30am, since I work from home I could go straight to work when I got in, meaning I only needed Tuesday afternoon off work, and I had a spare half day to take!
Cleared it with my missus and work, and off I went to London, a very happy chap indeed!
After clocking up a load of steps on my fitbit, walking from Euston to Camden for a Wendys, then back to Euston and along to Kings Cross I headed to The Water Rats.
I hadn’t been there for about a decade and a half ago back when I lived in Finchley, so it was great to see that it was not only still there, but still going strong. And indeed Kings Cross itself seemed much less rough than I remember it.
Standing at the bar having a drink whilst I waited, I looked up from my phone and Reb was standing next to me and said hello, which I admit had me a little starstruck!
I asked if it was ok to take photos, because although her manager had approved it, I always like to double-check with the artist where possible as I had an experience once where Jarvis Cocker’s manager approved my request for taking photos, but obviously didn’t tell the man himself, and he called me a cheeky buggar for taking photos with a “proper” camera!
I only spoke to her briefly, but she seems really nice and down to earth, and I’ve come to the conclusion recently that nice people seem to make better musicians!
Unfortunately I didn’t catch the opening act’s name, as it isn’t on the event or posters or anything like that, so unfortunately I’ll have to call him “Opening Act” for now!
He was a solo artist, leaned a little towards country music, great voice, catchy tunes, and definitely an artist I’d happily see again.
Next up was Blair Jollands, who I must admit I wasn’t familiar with and didn’t have time to check out before the show. I kind of expected all the bands to be in an alt-folk / country kind of mould, being someone who loves eclectic bills, I was blown away when he opened his set with “7 Blood” a corker of a disco funk type tune.
When a set starts off this strong, you start to wonder whether they’ve put their best song on first to grab the audience and then kind of fades away, but I can happily report that whilst this for me hearing his music for the first time, this was his most striking tune, the rest of the set was also very strong, and definitely an artist I need to devote some quality time to checking out his back catalogue.
Finally it was time for Reb Fountain’s set – and what a set it was! Great voice, great performance, her all-star band are well named, as they created a spellbinding set, that just transports you away from all the shit going on in the world at the moment, if only for one evening.
In particular, her 6 minute+ live version of Don’t You Know Who I am finishing off the main set, was simply stunning, her performance off the scale as she went out into the audience.
For the encore she finished with By This River.
The Water Rats had pretty much a capacity crowd, and the audience lapped up the quality music and performances from the start of the night to the end, with literally never a dull moment or filler tune from start to finish.
Very much a gig highlight of 2022. Let’s hope that Reb and her Band return to these shores before too long.
A superb life affirming gig – you’d have to be mad to miss her next tour if there is one, and let’s hope there is.