Ryan McPhun brought his latest incarnation of The Ruby Suns to Auckland’s Golden Dawn. It was hot, it was muggy and it was probably the last chance for the band to perform at the venue before it closes its doors in a couple of months.
There’s something just a bit magical about catching a club gig in Auckland at this time of year. The city still feels relatively empty and the weather can be sweltering. There are only a few choices to make on a weekend night if you’re after some live music.
Fortunately, tonight’s choice was a rare opportunity to can The Ruby Suns. Ryan McPhunn spends most of his time in Norway so his NZ gigs are not that common. This past year, The Ruby Suns released a new album, Sprite Fountain, and this was the first chance to hear the band since the new songs were released.
The tiny area the houses the live music in The Golden Dawn was filling up quickly with many in the audience former members of The Ruby Suns such as Lawrence Arabia and Edward Castelow (Dictaphone Blues). A video crew was on hand to document the occasion. It’s my understanding that all of the shows leading up to the venue’s closing will be recorded with a possible film to be released sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Up first was Suren Unka, who presented the growing crowd with about 30 minutes of electronic music…EDM I guess you would call it. The stage was dark, although there was a little light behind Suren, so that we saw a silhouette moving to the music, twirling knobs on his electronic gizmo situated in front of him.
At First, the crowd seemed taken aback by the loud dance music, but they soon loosened up and booties were shaking. The finale of the set featured Beach Pigs front man Dahnu Graham reprising his vocal performance on Flee. And this was a performance, as the singer climbed on the bar and elicited quite a bit of energy.
I admit, at first I was sceptical, but Suren proved to be pretty entertaining.
The Ruby Suns took the stage just before 10pm. Along with Ryan on vocals and guitar, he was accompanied by longtime keyboard/synth player Bevan Smith, drummer Alistair Deverick and, a guy who seems to be everywhere at the moments, Jonathan Pearce (of The Beths) on bass.
They kicked off with Boy, from 2013 album Christopher, Ryan’s high voice finding its way through Alistair’s skittering drum pattern.
A young lady named Liz joined the team to shake some maracas during Tane Mahuta…she would return later.
“We’re The Ruby Suns and we’re very sweaty”, announced Ryan.
He wasn’t alone. The temperature and humidity was rising as the quartet launched intothe trippy Closet Astrologer.
Then it was time for some new music. Ryan plugged the new album, noting that it was “free on Spotify…I don’t get any of the money”.
They played an extended version of the Latin-flavoured Tilt Of His Hat, which, hopefully sent folks to the merch table to pick up the vinyl on offer.
This was followed by Kingfisher Call Me with Bevan taking a bubbly synth solo and Alistair having a bit of a whack as well.
I’m guessing the band hasn’t played together that often, but they sounded tight and powerful, particularly Pearce’s bass lines.
After a couple more new tunes, Liz was back shaking her maracas during Oh Mojave, then it was the Spector-like Kenya Dig It.
Just 45 minutes after they started, Ryan announce it was time for their encore and they wrapped up with Pram Gang, a tune from the new album about parenting.
The timing was probably about right as the temperature continued to rise. Fans and musicians alike bid a hasty retreat to the Golden Dawn’s cooler outdoor area and continued to party into the warm summer night.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Rachel Webb:
The Ruby Suns set list:
- Tane Mahuta
- Closet Astrologer
- Tilt Of His Hat
- Kingfisher Call Me
- Oh Mojave
- Kenya Dig It?
- Pram Gang