Wed 8 Aug – Crowded House, Pete Yorn
I'll start by saying that I like Crowded House
's music well enough to own most of their albums on CD and
vinyl, but I wouldn't really call myself a major fan. However, this show could very well tip the balance.
Neil's son Liam Finn
opened with an interesting solo set, and damn can that boy play and sing. He did some fun things where he (surreptitiously) recorded himself playing, seamlessly looped it, played more, looped it, switched instruments or guitar tones, looped it, switched instruments.... He's got a way to go to catch up with his father's songwriting abilities but he's certainly got the technical chops to eventually match Neil's musicianship.
The second opening act, Pete Yorn
, isn't someone I'm familiar with. He started with a Warren Zevon
song and after a few more songs freely admitted being influenced by Jeff Buckley
and Leonard Cohen
; these influences were clear and in many ways really served to highlight the guy's limited range. The sound mix was also way off which made his set a little bit frustrating. I do plan to check out some of his recorded material though.
And then the great Crowded House themselves. Onto the stage and straight into "Locked Out
," and then some slower pieces which invited audience sing-alongs. Something special happened around this point: the audience sang Neil Finn
's songs back to him with a beautiful tone and passion that obviously impressed the man. This was repeated during a number of songs throughout the 2+ hours the band were on stage.
The band were chatty and in good humour, and it's been a long long time since I've seen a group of musicians who were so incredibly comfortable with their instruments and material. Their playing was almost flawless but didn't have the stiff clinicality of rote performance, and there were a number of lightly-rehearsed classic NZ pieces which were especially humourous for us kiwis in the audience.
Possibly because of the amazing audience response to the band, Neil encouraged people to come and dance in the fenced-off orchestra pit during "Don't Dream It's Over
" ("Tell security to f--- off!" he said), even getting down in there himself at one point. However, it turned out that the floor down there was unsafe and Neil had to ask them to move out again. Surprisingly, everybody did so without grumbling, and the show continued. During one of the two encores however, both Neil and Nick moved their gear down into the pit and stood on packing crates in order to be as close to the audience as possible.
All in all it was an extremely entertaining evening, and a concert I'm very glad to have attended.