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2007-11-08 - 10:11 p.m.

Crowded House are back in a big way. That's my assessment after seeing them at the Entertainment Centre on Tuesday night. When Paul Hester died, I thought that without him all the remaining members could hope to be was Neil Finn's backing band, but I was wrong. After Live Earth I think I said that despite all the incarnations of Neil Finn I've seen in the last 11 years, Crowded House were something else. Despite what anybody says or thinks about the new album (and I quite like it, though it's not remarkable in any way), this *is* the band that played to 100,000+ fans on the Opera House steps. Like AC/DC after Bon Scott they will never be the same, but they're still at the top of their game. I only hope that they stick together and tour incessantly for a few years, in the hope that they might play some smaller venues where you can actually get up and dance.

I resisted the temptation to surf the net before the show to see what they had been playing, but I've done so afterwards and the diversity of what they've been dong since they reformed is astounding. From very early b-sides ("Recurring Dream"), to snippets of obscure songs from "Temple of Low Men" ("Love This Life", "In the Lowlands") to not-quite-so-big singles ("Nails in my Feet", "Chocolate Cake") to Paul Hester penned fan favourites ("Italian Plastic"). The only band of similar profile that I know that vary their selists as much are Pearl Jam. Next time they play two shows in Sydney I'm going to both for sure. Which is not to say I was the least bit disappointed with what was played.

I figured certain songs were a given, but a couple of the others I was hoping for actually kicked off the show. The combination of "Private Universe" and "Mean to Me" was one of the best openings to a show that I've seen. The talents of new drummer Matt Sherrod were showcased in the extended outtro of the opening song, while "Mean to Me" more than anything else took me back to the Opera House show like I'd just watched the DVD yesterday (oh wait...I had). From there they went straight into the most well known and first single from the new album- "Don't Stop Now" And then it was time for the first singalong favourite of the night- "Fall at Your Feet".

The hits kept coming, interspersed with plenty of new album moments. It was only at the start of "Distant Sun", the penultimate song of the main set, that Neil encouraged everyone to get up and dance (I would have done so from the start if only the people in front of me had given me an excuse). They closed the main set with "Weather With You", and came back on to an impromptu version of the Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere" before breaking into "Locked Out" and "Something So Strong".

Then it was time for a second encore, and Mark Hart's turn to shine as his psychedelic 12 string guitar guided us through "Fingers of Love". All the lights were turned off except for a single lamp in a cutout caravan as we sang "Four Seasons in One Day" for Paul, and after some teasing from Neil and Nick, they finished with "Better Be Home Soon".

I'm pretty sure if I was 10 years older the Crowdies would have been my Whitlams. Roadtrip anyone?

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Setlist

Private Universe
Mean to Me
Don't Stop Now
Fall at Your Feet
Say That Again
Walked Her Way Down
When You Come
Love You Till The Day I Die
A Sigh
It's Only Natural
Silent House
Don't Dream It's Over
People Are Like Suns
Fire in Your Belly (impromptu rendition of a Liam Finn song)
Pineapple Head
Distant Sun
Weather With You
__________________

Road to Nowhere/ Locked Out
Something So Strong
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Fingers of Love
Four Seasons in One Day
Better Be Home Soon

 

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