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2004-12-06 - 2:00 p.m.
Argh- so much to write about. The "interesting development" that I mentioned at the end of my last entry will have to wait. So today is the last of my six days off. I've been meaning to write, at least on the first 3, but haven't been motivated or haven't got around to it. I found myself having an hour or two sleep in the afternoon despite having got up late, just because I wasn't inspired to do anything else, and because I was looking forward to what I was doing at night. I still did shopping, and cleaning, and that sort of thing- but I want to exercise my mind more on days off- writing more and reading more. I was inspired by the ABC special "My Favourite Book" to make a list of books I want to read. I think a good place to start would be some of the modern easy to read classics, from "Cloudstreet" to "The Da Vinci Code" to "Harry Potter". I must confess I have no idea what "The Da Vicni Code" is supposed to be about, I've just heard it as a buzz word recently and actually thought it was one of those non-fiction cult things like "The Bible Code" which sucks people in. Anyway, my point being I want to read a lot more, and not be particularly influenced by critics or peers rubbishing any particular book, just find out for myself. I like the idea of having unheard of books recommended to me too, but famous (or infamous) books I've yet to read are a good place to start, as I always want to know what all the fuss is about. It's worked for me when it comes to music, but that isn't so time consuming (examples of CDs which I listened to or bought purely due to popular opinion are "Ziggy Stardust" which is now one of my all time favourites, and "Odelay" by Beck which I couldn't work out for the life of me how it made it to #2 on Juice's Top 100 of the Nineties).
Other classics which I want to read which might be harder to get into are Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", as they inspired people who inspired me, from Nick Cave to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Moving on, but sticking with the arts. The Finn Brothers, whose shows I saw on Thursday and Friday last week.
The Finn Brothers are not musical royalty, they are musical Gods. The history of their career together began when Split Enz were struggling in London and Tim asked his younger brother Neil, who was working as a hospital intern in Auckland, to join the band. The older Finn must have already known what the rest of the world was to soon discover, as in no time Neil and penned their breakthrough smash hit "I Got You" and followed it with "History Never Repeats" and "Message to My Girl". Which is not to say Neil is *that* much more talented than Tim, just that he appeals more to the mainstream. Split Enz were far more quirky than Crowded House, and it was Tim and Phil Judd who created them and carved their reputation. Neil and Split Enz were a classic case of symbiosis- they launched him and he saved them from the obscurity of being an immensly creative but commercially unsuccessful band.
The fact that Neil is recognised worldwide as a musical genius is bound to cause some jealousy and resentment in his older brother. Since the Enz split, their working relationship has been volatile- a temporary union of the two in Crowded House couldn't last as there was no room on the stage for both their egos. Yet every time they come together there is magic, as if they've played, written and harmonised together all their lives. In fact, it wasn't until 1990 that they wrote songs together- in the Split Enz days they would for the most part bring complete songs to the band.
So back to the concerts. I'm so glad I got to two of them- with the sets being substantially different. Even the songs featured from the new album differed.
The new album featured heavily, though inevitably you left the theatre with Crowded House singalongs in your head. New songs played on both nights included the tender piano ballad "Edible Flowers" which always reminds me of classic Lennon/McCartney patchworks such as "A Day in the Life" and "I've Got a Feeling", where two separate songs eventually merged. "A Life Between Us" celebrates the brothers' long journey in lines like In so many ways I'm the same as you/ And so many things better left unsaid and We're staring at each other/ like the banks of a river/ and we can't get any closer. "Nothing Wrong With You" is an ode to someone who has been through it all and come out unscathed- All the mud in this town/all the dirt in this world/none of it sticks on you/ you shake it off/'cause you're better than that...
On Friday, "All The Colours" gave us a glimpse into their emotional last days with their mother Mary- I can never forget the day we said goodbye/ holding your hands a rainbow in the sky/ and all the colours there to gather you up/ and carry you up. On Thursday Tim told us that a man who finds love in his life is "The Luckiest Man Alive" while Neil took a trip back to his Catholic upbringing with "All God's Children". But for me the most poignant and beautiful moment from the new album was staged beautifully on Thursday night when the every stage light was turned out for the first verse and chorus of "Disembodied Voices"- talking with my brother when the lights went out/ down the hallway forty years ago/ and what became much harder was so easy then/ opening up and letting go/ disembodied voices floating through the air/ this place in the darkness could be anywhere.
Classic Crowded House moments included "Four Seasons in One Day", "Distant Sun", "It's Only Natural" and "Weather With You", all evoking enthusiastic audience participation, and the surprise inclusion of "How Will You Go" from 'Woodface' in the encore on Friday night. On the Split Enz side of things we had the aforementioned "Poor Boy" and "Bold as Brass" on Thursday as well as an unplanned run through of "Stuff and Nonsense" followng a request from the audience, while "Dirty Creature" was an inclusion in Friday's set. The 1995 "Finn" collaboration was represented by "Angel's Heap" on Thursday and "Suffer Never" & "Only Talking Sense" on Friday.
Each night we were treated to two encores. The highlight of the first encore on both nights was the replacement of the house band with Liam and Elroy Finn on bass guitar and drums for "I Got You" while the second encore on Friday was a fitting end to a four month tour. Tim Finn's wonderful "Persuasion" from his 1994 solo effort 'Before and After' kicked it off, with Neil playing grand piano. The younger Finn remained at the ivories for "Message to My Girl" before a call for requests saw them launch into "I See Red". With Tim back on the piano and Neil on acoustic guitar they took us through Van Morrison's "Irish Heartbeat" before closing with one of my favourite pop songs of all time- "Better Be Home Soon".
So many things left unsaid- impromptu jams, witty one liners, amusing anectodes. One, or two in fact, of the concerts of the year. Tim and Neil- hurry back to our shores.