Crowded House dried off after a wet and muddy A Day On The Green performance in Geelong over the weekend, to deliver a showstopping career celebration.
Following stunning sets from openers Grecian acoustic four-piece Maistrato and ‘Sea of Love’ songstress Cat Power, Mitchell Froom, Liam Finn, Elroy Finn, a kilt wearing Nick Seymour and a blue velvet blazered Neil Finn emerged on the Rod Laver stage for a two and a half hour exploration of their own legendary, and adopted, catalogue.
Purple and golden hues lit up the stage as they launched into ‘Distant Sun’ from their 1993 Together Alone, opening the evening in style. By way of introductions bassist Nick Seymour exclaimed his excitement for being back in his hometown of Melbourne, with Neil continuing to introduce each band member from where they hail from; ‘Now you know about the world where we live, and here is ‘World Where You Live’’, he says before the band jump into the track from their self-titled debut. This would trigger a location theme that continued throughout each song, as the band entered down memory lane (or street), pinning each song to its birthplace address, mapping out Melbourne’s Crowded Houses.
Whilst the arena was seating only, the energy was palpable for the Australian darlings, a sentiment duly noted by Mr Finn. With a quick guitar change to bare an acoustic, he commented ‘Get your singing voices ready Melbourne’, before acknowledging an audience members’ “polite but stern” ‘Go Neil’ heckle. It was time for a stunning rendition of ‘Fall At Your Feet’, as written at 11 Osborne Street. ‘I can sense Melbourne has beautiful voices’, Finn comments, leading the audience in an acapella chorus of heavenly proportions.
Joining the stage with his sons Elroy Finn on drums and Liam Finn on guitar and backing vocals turned the house into a home. The chemistry amongst the musicians was undeniable and their sound was crisp and impeccably tight. It also allowed for quality banter between Neil and Liam, with discussion around birth stories and delirium being shared around the conception of ‘Pineapple Head’.
Following ‘Show Me The Way’ and ‘Goodnight Everyone’, the upright piano discreetly tucked into the corner of the stage became the centre of attention. A spotlight illuminated the frontman as he sat at the antique instrument to undertake his Split Enz composition ‘Message To My Girl’. Finn’s vocals did not waver throughout the entire 2 and a half hour performance, and on this ballad it was evident that nearly 40 years post formation, his pipes are as strong as ever.
Jumping back to the centre of the stage with his guitar, the band re-emerged to take on ‘Nails in My Feet’ and ‘When You Come’, before being joined by support act Maistrato for an instrumental jam, ‘Private Universe’, ‘Some Greater Plan’ and ‘Four Seasons In One Day’ with Elroy Finn up front on brushes. A stage left exit of the four piece, meant for a stage right entry of Noel Crombie who brought back the artform of playing the spoons in a solo and for ‘Sister Madly’. “He’ll have a bruise on this knee tomorrow,” joked the frontman.
After a gorgeous version of ‘Whatever You Want’ as dedicated to Dr Claire, it was time for a trio of hits and massive crowd singalongs. ‘It’s Only Natural’ got the ball rolling feeding into the crowd's energy. Dun di, dun dun di, dun dun di… the phone torches start to illuminate the arena for a captivating, showstopping performance of ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’. Melbourne definitely had their singing voices ready for this number, with Finn playing into the powerful acoustics for singalongs and harmonisations. A moving moment from a well-rounded set that would conclude on a high note with ‘Something So Strong’.
A quick fakeout before a full encore saw the band return to play brother Tim Finn co-write, Split Enz power-piece, ‘I Got You’. In a night of family affairs, memory lanes and Australian anthems being celebrated, it was only fitting for Nick Seymour to be reunited onstage by brother Mark Seymour of Hunters and Collectors for an angelic Finn/Seymour duet on ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’.
For a third time that evening Maistrato appeared on the stage to help close out the night. ‘Weather With You’ was simply delightful, with Finn again leaning into the singalong setting supplied by the Melbourne crowd. The crowd engagement was a major player in the evenings proceedings, and helped to shape the setlist with Finn warranting a request from an audience member “because she asked nicely” to play ‘She Goes On’; resurrected for the first time live since 2010 with Finn commenting “I’m glad I remembered it!”.
What better way to send a crowd home after an epic evening of classic songs than with the Temple of Low Men star, ‘Better Be Home Soon’. The stunning harmonies, the gelling of guitars and drums, the vocal offering of the crowd, the Grecian twists from Maistrato elevating it, the final silent pause before the legendary frontman drove us home on the prolonged ‘soon’; a perfect send off.
Crowded House invited us into their many homes last night across Melbourne and we left as part of their family with full bellies from the 24 courses they served. We can’t wait to visit again!
Crowded House final 3 shows
Kings Park & Botanic Garden, PERTH
November 25th, 26th and 27th