Anything Can Happen

By way of reviewing their concert of last Saturday, I was going to write about how I discovered Tim and Neil Finn, until I realised there’s hardly been a time when they haven’t been on my musical radar—from an early infatuation with “Message to My Girl” to a full-blown obsession a few years after Split Enz split up, when I’d listen to See Ya Round on a continuous-looping walkman while mowing the front paddock. (You had to crank it loud to beat the sound of a Briggs & Stratton. Sorry, eardrums.)

It always felt like an odd mix of the obvious and the obscure, being a Finn fan: everybody liked Crowded House, and all those Enz classics were hits back in the day. But who else rated Big Canoe and Altitude? No-one I knew. Tracks like “No Thunder” and “Parihaka” felt like a private universe.

I saw Crowded House twice, with and without Tim, on the tours for Woodface and Together Alone (two of their best albums, the others being... all of them). Then in 2001 Jane and I saw a greyer Tim doing the songs from Say It Is So in Prahran: a good gig, if a little low-key.

There was nothing low-key about Saturday night: Tim was more animated than I’d ever seen him, dancing like a fifteen-year-old (wouldn’t, because they’d be too self-conscious). The grown-out mop of hair suits him, soaking up the sweat and flicking it off with every shake of his head. Neil, meanwhile, hardly seems to have changed since his Crowdie days—or at least he hasn’t changed that vest. They’ve even cranked up the Kiwiness by recruiting a pair of Peter Jackson clones on guitar and drums.

The show opened with the lead single, “Won’t Give In”, from the polished Everyone is Here; we got two-thirds of the album over the course of the night, including one of my favourites (“Nothing Wrong With You”) though not the other (“All God’s Children”). It was as much an overview of their back catalogue as a plug for their newest: three tracks in, we were already back in 1980, hearing “Poor Boy”. A bit later, we had a feedbacking “Suffer Never” followed by Tim’s “Persuasion”; the obvious Woodface hits for the UK audience who discovered them with that album; and that ’90s highlight, “Distant Sun”.

Pretty good, then. But it got pretty better. After an encore featuring home movies of a tiny Tim, they came back for another. “For this song,” said the elder Finn as the lights dimmed, “imagine yourself at the bottom of a big, black loch...”

If you were to ask me to name my favourite Split Enz song, I guess it’d have to come from my favourite Split Enz album—and on Time and Tide it’s hard to beat the opening track. “Dirty Creature” is as timeless and as tight as anything they’ve done, and I’d never heard it played live until tonight.

What a great show.

I snapped away with the digital camera, but without the crash-barrier for support my shots weren’t a patch on Shauna’s. The girls who moved in front of us halfway through and started waving their tentacles in the air like Kodos didn’t help, either. Still, thanks to the magic of low-resolution screens, these ones don’t look too bad.


22 October 2004

Here’s what people said about this entry.

rory! what an excellent, exxxxxxxcellent post. especially the peter jackson line.

your music writing is always bloody genius coz you have an amazing ability to put your personal perspective into it without sounding like a navel-gazing wanker! you articulate the whole being a finn fan thing so very well.

i can't think of any other artist who has been around for so long with such quality. sometimes they're like THE soundtrack of your life then other times they trundle along in the background when you're occupied with other stuff. but they're always there to be revisited, dependably good.

(have been listening to that new album endlessly all week, it really is the business! but pretty crap accompaniment for running on a treadmill, hehe)

Added by shauna on a Friday in October.