Spark Arena, Auckland
The recent thread on stand up comedy made me think of Neil Finn. It is rare for a musician of his quality to also be a very funny storyteller. One of the reasons he’s so likeable is that he’s probably just sung an astonishing song perfectly just moments before. He had me at Weather with You – a show stopper that’s actually their show starter!
No? Well it would be funny if great-lafff Neil said it.
Mitchell Froom was tickling the ivories and playing various strange instruments from time to time. He produced the first three CH albums and was briefly married to Suzanne Vega. After Don’t Dream it’s Over, Neil commented that his organ playing makes the song and no one can do it like him. These affectionate touches are peppered throughout the show – not least due to his two boys being in the band. One is playing lead guitar next to Neil and the other is at the back of the stage on drums. He’s the distant son, I guess. All right. Is this thing on?
Nick Seymour is a kilt-wearing Edge lookalike who athletically bounces around as he plays bass. At one point he moans about not having as much attention from the tech guy. “You’ve only got four strings” said Neil, ending the debate.
So yes there’s a lorra lorra laughs but the songs steal the show. The quintessential “I know this one!” band, you can’t help getting swept away. His voice is crystal clear with no forgivable rough edges in a live setting.
The encore gave us a surprise – a really rather good version of “Heroes” . It made me reflect on many things as they went through it but the visuals began to have a COVID theme, highlighting frontline workers of different kinds as playing cards interspersed with images of heroic figures flicked over. The Queen card was a drawing of Jacinda in a face mask and – just as the song reaches its peak – the King card is Bowie. The image is blown up large and remains in place as a crowd of 5,000 sing “We can be heroes” . At this point my wife laughed at me because I had lost it emotionally, blubbing like a big fat baby. I’d only done this once before at Kraftwerk – but this was full waterworks. Bastards.
So – yeah, it was all right.
40s, 50s mainly but young people were certainly there as this band are National treasures in two countries.
It made me think..
Their songs aren’t straightforward – there’s always a distinctive bit, a change of key or extended verse that keeps you guessing.
A new one, On the Island, is a corker but you may not take to it straight away. More straightforward is Whatever you Want (not that one) which is more immediate and catchy.