Tiny Ruins are a New Zealand band whose sound, I guess, could be described as folk-rock. On record, the gentler, folky side prevails, led by the lovely voice of Hollie Fullbrook. Live, there is more rock – some interesting guitar twists, some powerful rhythms. On Wednesday they played at Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. They are promoting a fine new album called “Olympic Girls”, released earlier this year.
I first came across Tiny Ruins on the Garden Stage at End of the Road in 2018. It was one of the early afternoon shows that become something of a revelation. I was very taken then by Holly’s singing and those guitars. The song I really loved was one called “Old as the Hills”, which is from their 2011 album, “Some Were Meant for Sea”. They have been going a while. A well-respected band, but maybe one that won’t ever become massive. It’s a sound that appeals to me, but there’s an understated air about it which is never going to pull in a huge number of people. It’s enough to make a living out of the thing you love though, so why not? And the affectionate reaction they received at Bush Hall showed that they are held in high esteem.
Holly started nervously, and said that she always does. She relaxed visibly as the concert went on. There was a section midway through the concert which I particularly enjoyed, when they played a favourite tune from the 2014 album “Brightly Painted One” called “me at Museum, You in the Wintergardens” and then “School of Design” from “Olympic Girls”. Both lovely, reflective songs. Others which I’m pretty sure featured included “Holograms”, “How Much” and “Sparklers” from the new album. They finished with the track “Olympic Girls”, which is up there with their best. They came back for two mellow songs, including another old favourite, “Straw from Gold”.
On record Tiny Ruins make music that you can relax and reflect to. They fulfil a role for me that the Staves and This is the Kit have played in the past: music to soothe the soul. Live, the guitar twists bring to mind another folk-rock band I enjoyed a few years ago called Espers. Whatever happened to them?
Tiny Ruins, though, keep on keeping on. And good luck to them. A very likeable band, and one I’ll watch out for in the future. In the meantime I’ll enjoy “Olympic Girls”, which is well-placed to make my top ten for 2019.