#43 The Black Quartet, Freida Margolis

10 June 2018


When we first moved to Grey Lynn back in 2006, there was a high end organic butchery on the corner of Hakanoa St and Richmond Rd, which had stood there for best part of a century. That all ended about five years later when the butcher moved out, unable to compete with the supermarkets and two other boutique butchers in the vicinity that operated to a higher capacity. The butchery was replaced by Freida Margolis, and pretty quickly the local hand-wringing about the loss of small businesses turned into a widespread fondness for the new watering hole that oozed character in both design and staffing. 

It's a small bar, and about 40 or so people were tightly crammed haphazardly to see the Black Quartet. The quartet is made up of Jess Hindin, Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper, Rachel Wells and Joe Harrop. They frequently support or accompany many established names in the music industry, and perform at corporate gigs and private events, but this is only their third performance in their own right. And on tonight's evidence, they have a rich and diverse offering that deserves a much wider audience.

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Playing a mix of original compositions, and arrangements of classical modern and pop, they had the crowd enjoying every moment. The arrangements were at times delicate and floating, at others strident with pulsing rhythms. Arrangements included Gotye's Someone that I Used to Know, Jeff Buckley's Lover You Should Have Come Over, and Aha's Take on Me. And because no performance is complete (according to Jess Hindin) without Britney Spears, we were treated to Toxic. And there's something about it being done by a seriously talented string quartet that just made it sound bloody good.

In a few songs - Springsteen's I'm on Fire, Hendrix's Purple Haze and Jeff Buckley's Lilac Wine - Rachel Wells brought her mellow vocals to the fore, adding a whole new layer of delight for the crowd. 

It was our first outing as a family in this entire 52 gigs challenge. My daughter is learning the viola at school and enjoyed seeing it within a quartet setting performance. She's in her early teenage years and starting to individuate her own musical tastes, and so it was fun to all be on the same page for an evening. Let the record stand - Dad made a good choice.