23 Oct 2021

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Gig Review: Crowded House @ Claudelands Arena, Hamilton - 23/03/2021

24 Mar 2021 // A review by Brendan McCarthy
The Crowded House To The Island tour strolled into Hamilton last night and took a seat at Claudelands Arena. A strong crowd of 4000 fans, comfortably arranged in a theatre style setting waited patiently for this long overdue performance from our favourite sons. Given the early start time of 8:30pm, the fact that it’s a school night and the vast majority in attendance being fifty-somethings, the atmosphere is cultured.

Right on time the darkness is extinguished with a punch of vibrant colour and the air is instantly filled with the familiar jangle from the opening sequence of Weather With You. Straight down to the business of entertainment the band are here to sing and encourage the audience to do the same. Liam Finn now expertly delivers the signature high harmony in this song, normally sung by Tim Finn.

The Finn family legend is in safe hands.

Neil greets the crowd explaining that this is his first time playing Claudelands and pays respect to the currently closed Founders Theatre. “It’s great to be back in the Waikato”, he exclaims and then expertly steers the conversation around to the fact that he is a local. This is a perfect introduction to the next track Mean To Me where he pauses with perfect timing and great applause at the line “and the sound of Te Awamutu had a truly sacred ring”.

With the crowd settled in, it's time for the band to get down to business. Crowded House business. A business that is now well established and thus has considerable catalogue on offer.

Drawing on the full range of albums Neil progresses the set through well-known tracks; World Where You Live, Fall At Your Feet, When You Come, Whispers and Moans and Pineapple Head. I did wonder if Liam might sing the line “For pleasure the pineapple head” given that he is credited on record as having been lyrically inspirational when Neil wrote the song and that this could be an opportunity for the inspirer to become the deliverer. It was not to be.

Interweaved into the show were new songs Whatever You Want and the tours theme song To The Island. Both tracks fitting nicely into the Crowded House sound given that they are the new kids on the block and surrounded by so many legacy tunes.

The line-up for this tour includes founding member Nick Seymour on bass and associated producer Mitchell Froom on keyboards plus both Neil’s sons, Liam Finn on guitar and Elroy Finn on drums.

Given the roles the younger Finns are fulfilling or indeed the shoes they are being asked to fill, (Mark Hart and Paul Hester) one may conclude that a herculean task is at hand. It’s one thing to be asked to be session musicians in arguably New Zealand’s greatest band but the addition of the relational expectation must indeed be a challenge. However, Elroy dispatched a performance on the Drums that sat perfectly in my mind with the requirements of so many great songs and Liam brought both the 'Rock Star' attitude and humble excellence in his guitar playing.

Back to the set

Crowded House have the ability to take us on a musical journey with so many different styles of songs on offer. The band executed a period of ambient tones with crowd favourites Private Universe, Four Seasons In One Day, Silent House and Nails In My Feet visually accompanied by a flying stage set of large overhead moving props and video screens providing a totally modern concert experience.

With the quieter acoustic period of the show delivered, it's time for the home straight.

Neil strapped on his electric guitar and played the chords that made him world-renowned. We have all heard Don’t Dream It's Over hundreds of times but there is nothing like hearing Neil strum it live. The song still encompasses Crowded House and everything that makes them great. Neil extends the last chorus backed by just guitar so we can all stand and sing. This is what live music is about. Lost in a shared musical moment. Goosebumps.

Followed by crowd sung versions of Something So Strong and 7 Worlds Collide, the band left the stage while the production crew set up an upright piano centre stage.

The lights returned with Neil seated at the piano and he led the band through Chocolate Cake and an upstanding rendition of Heroes by David Bowie. Neil takes the opportunity to grab the microphone and traverse the front rows for the last few choruses proving that there is still plenty of gas left in the tank for this aging master.

With the piano packed away, the final singalong is upon us and Neil proclaims, “It’s time for the inevitable”.

Better Be Home Soon is the perfect track to send us all on our way.

Crowded House command legendary status in New Zealand music and they deserve it. Neil is an outstanding songwriter who has proven throughout his career that he can consistently deliver new music from the heart that resonates with people. The band has always been excellent and reproduce their studio sound with ease in a live setting.

The current live show is world class and the band has a ton of energy on offer.

How lucky we are to have Crowded House in New Zealand.

Photos courtesy of Ngamihi Pawa


Other Reviews By Brendan McCarthy

Gig Review: Jon Toogood @ Waihi Beach Hotel, Waihi Beach - 04/01/2021
05 Jan 2021 // by Brendan McCarthy
The Jon Toogood Solo, Acoustic tour rolled into the Waihi Beach Hotel last night and I was indeed an eager attendee. Jon has been regularly performing in this format for the last few years but the stars have not always been aligned to allow me to catch the gig, so I wanted to make sure that I did not let this opportunity pass by again.
Michael Morris - Single Review: Pseudoephedrine
20 Dec 2020 // by Brendan McCarthy
Dunedin based Alternative Pop/Rock/Punk musician Michael Morris returns home following an extensive journey throughout Europe while based in France. The first single from his upcoming sophomore album is called Pseudoephedrine and is a nice example of what is shaping up to be a noteworthy body of work.
Personal Igloo - EP Review: Phone-in Serotonin
17 Nov 2020 // by Brendan McCarthy
For the last couple of days I have driven home with my windows down to allow the beautiful Bay of Plenty sunshine to stream into my life and for these journeys I have chilled to the most excellent musical sounds of Phone-in Serotonin by Personal Igloo. This has been perfect timing all round and a joyful reminder of how privileged we are as kiwis to live in paradise and be able to consume our own unique culture.
Sean Bodley - Single Review: Sunday Drive
17 Jun 2020 // by Brendan McCarthy
In the world of lead guitar and instrumental offerings, Sean Bodley needs no introduction. Over the last 10 years, Sean has established a catalogue of six albums that display his dedication to the Guitar as an instrument of creation and clearly highlight his talent; therefore, one could correctly state that his latest single Sunday Drive is not his first rodeo.
Andy Snadden - Album Review: The River
27 May 2020 // by Brendan McCarthy
The River is the debut album by Japan-based Kiwi singer/songwriter Andy Snadden. Displaying clear influences from some of the greats, one can instantly hear many hours of devotion to the likes of Lennon, McCartney, Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel have gone into the development of Andy's music.
Gig Review: The Feelers @ Bay Park Arena, Tauranga - 20/12/2019
22 Dec 2019 // by Brendan McCarthy
An enthusiastic crowd of approx. 300 forty-somethings turned out to see Tauranga installment of The Feelers tour with Stellar* and Tablefox.
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