Crowded House - one of my favourite bands. I've seen them quite a few times. But I've never managed to get to a Neil Finn solo gig. So tonight was a first.
The support act tonight was Hollie Fullbrook. Born in Bristol (yes, she played the hometown card) and emigrating to New Zealand as a child, Hollie is the leader of the band Tiny Ruins and she played a solo acoustic set of some of her songs while promoting her new band album Brightly Painted One (Bella Union). Her songs were rather good. And later she reemerged as part of Neil's band playing Cello & guitar/vocals
Freed from the shackles of the Crowded House repertoire, Neil opens up with the atmospheric and downbeat Impressions which is also the first track on his new solo album Dizzy Heights.
For anyone who hasn't heard solo Neil, he is a lot more musically experimental.
For this tour, he is joined by a young band which includes Mrs Finn on bass.
Tonight, Neil draws on Crowded House albums, His 3 solo albums - Try Whistling This, One Nil & Dizzy Heights, The Finn Brothers albums and even Split Enz!
This is from his performance on Jools Later - 4 nights before.
Neil was certainly on top form tonight and the 2 1/2 hrs just flew by.
With such a wealth of material to choose from, it was always going to be a varied and interesting show with Neil digging out the older songs as well as the classics.
It was nice to finally hear the solo tracks live, as they rarely get an outing in a Crowded House gig.
Early highlights included my favourite Crowded House track Distant Sun, which came in as song two and the title track of the new album Dizzy Heights. And I enjoyed hearing the Finn Brothers song Suffer Never for the first time live.
Although my favourite Neil solo song - She Will Have Her Way got me on my feet in this sit down show.
Neil stated that it was a pleasure to be able to play the piano on more songs than he does at Crowded House shows. I agree with this as Neil is an accomplished pianist, and we don't get to see that side of his talent very often. And it was nice to hear the songs played on the instrument on which they were written.
And Neil's version of Don't Dream It's Over, played on piano on this tour , is a case in point. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye and always reminds me of former Crowded House drummer Paul Hester, sadly no longer with us.
Another highlight was the album track Divebomber from Dizzy Heights. On the album, it's a bit misplaced, with it's falsetto vocals, sound effects and experimental structure - but live, it's a different beast and works much better as a live performance. Reminded me of Pink Floyd funnily enough. Especially with the multi-coloured projections as the backdrop to the show.
The first encore included the rocky Locked Out and the Split Enz classic, I Got You and finally got the girls running down the aisles dancing and most of the crowd on their feet. Well Done Ladies.
As you can see, I've included various videos from the current tour to give you a taste of what the show experience.
Now Neil has always enjoyed a bit of crowd banter and throughout the gig talked to two guys, Derrick and Simon.
Neil mentioned that he would be sliding across the top of the piano at some point and when Simon interjected that he could do that, Neil said he would call on him later in the show - and he did. But he also made Simon work for his 15 minutes of fame. Check out the video I recorded below.
The Split Enz classic, I Got You was a nice surprise to end the first encore.
At the end of the show, Neil came back on to the stage alone and played a gorgeous version of Four Seasons In One Day, which I did manage to capture for posterity.
He ended the show with the band joining him for the Crowded House classic Better Be Home Soon. See the video on link below.
It was a brilliant show. The best I've ever seen Neil perform. And I even managed to get his personal set list from his piano.
One thing though Neil, next time, come to Wales. And play Recurring Dream again :)
Twitter - @neilmullanefinn