Neil And Liam Finn At Amoeba, Friday August 24th 2018
Neil Finn has been crafting perfect pop tunes for a long time, as the frontman of Crowded House, he wrote one of the most famous songs of the ‘80s, ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, and his high gentle croon never left our collective memory, even though Crowded House’s career first ended in 1996. Since that time, Neil embarked in a solo project, released 2 albums with his brother Tim as the Finn Brothers, eventually reformed Crowded House in 2006, and this return to the stage was eventually followed by 2 new albums and a world tour.
And because it’s always a family affair with the Finns, Neil was releasing a new album ‘Lightsleeper’ today, an album he wrote in collaboration with his son Liam. The two New Zealand singer/songwriters gave an intimate mini-concert at Amoeba around noon, and if I barely have the chance to be free around that very peculiar time, I skipped lunch and managed to be there.
The two first harmonized with ease on an old song from Split Enz (‘Sweet Dreams’) before playing new tunes from their album ‘We Know What It Means’, ‘Anger Plays a Part’, while Neil naturally switched from acoustic guitar to keyboard. If Liam was doing most of the vocals on ‘Anger Plays a Part’, the tone was pure Finn-vibe with a light melancholia moving along heartfelt melodies, showcasing this unique gift for pop melodies Neil Finn is known for.
And when they covered Crowded House’s Distant Sun’, Neil obviously took the lead on vocals, getting the full attention of the crowd, as it may have been the strongest song of the set… honestly the quiet crowd was captivated during the entire set.
Even though Radiohead’s Ed O’Brian has said that Liam is ‘the most prolific writer of great songs’, even though both men will be part of Fleetwood Mac’s forthcoming tour in 2018 — Liam will be replacing Lindsey Buckingham — there was a real simplicity in their performance, the father looking as humble as his son. While covering older songs like ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘Distant Sun’, Neil thought it was even necessary to ‘remind us that they came from somewhere’, as if people who had been standing front row for more than hour, patiently waiting for the show, didn’t know what the frontman of Crowded House looked like.
If lyrics got a bit lost during an unidentified and upbeat song that went like this ‘There’s a place for me on the edge of your seat’, the set was very gentle and smooth, with the new song ‘Back to Life’, and the sweet lullaby ‘Hold Her Close’, embracing the theme of the album, Lightsleeper’, in a state between consciousness and sleep. The ambiance was dreamy and quiet, just awaken by Neil’s jokes and a great complicity between father and son, and there was obviously a post-Beatles-McCartney aura in these sweet melodies. However, the music was rather floating in space at night time than trying to compete with Crowded House’s tight catchy choruses, and the emphasis was done on the harmonies, as father and son’s voices completed themselves to perfection.
‘We come from somewhere,’ Neil told us, ‘and we are getting somewhere by the way!… so are you, because you chose to be there!’ he added while thanking us all. Modesty seems to be the quality of the most enduring pop stars.
Sweet Dreams (Split Endz)
We Know What It Means
Anger Plays a Part
Distant Sun (Crowded House)
? … Fire
Back to Life
Hold Her Close