Deluge In A Paper Cup
I didn't mind that I was in a huge club, packed with people, with drunk ponytail-swinging girl in front of me, a few overgrown frat boys shouting "woo-hoo" one too many times... because Neil Finn put on a perfect pop show tonight at Irving Plaza, playing for over two hours and sprinkling his set (plus two encores) with loads of surprises. Some of the highlights:
- Neil, upon spotting someone with a recording device:
"Go ahead, record it, pass it around, I don't mind."
"Oh, so now he takes it out of his pocket."
"Wait, it looks like you forgot to put in the tape -- let me help you with that."
..and so on
- Getting the chance to hear a perfect, haunting version of my favorite Split Enz song just a few songs into the show
- A low-key, acoustic rendition of "Love This Life" (from, IMO, the best Crowded House album Temple of Low Men)
- Neil calling his dad on his cell phone, holding it up to the mic and having him say hello to the audience / all of us saying "hi" back before Neil launches into what he said was his dad's favorite song (an oldie from the 30s or 40s)
- Finding myself recognizing opening chords to a song, then automatically singing along to every single word through more than half the song before having any clue at all what it was. Answer: obscure album track "Take A Walk" from 1982 Split Enz album Time and Tide, which I recall being stuck in my walkman through a good part of my first couple of years of high school.
- Neil thanking every single person in his band, road crew and other staff by name onstage. True class.
- Audience sing-along, from the first verse, of an album track from the first Crowded House LP. Hardcore fans in the house? Yes, indeed. But I'm glad the crowd more or less shut up for the rest of the song.
- An audience member handing a children's book up to the stage called something like A Very Crowded House, from which Neil read bits in between songs throughout the night, later composing/performing a (surprisingly good) song on the fly based on words from the book.
- Excellent performances of many other favorites old and new, incl. "She Will Have Her Way," "Sinner," "Fall At Your Feet," "Message to My Girl" (on solo piano) plus a bouncy cover of "The Kids Are Alright."
- Being able to purchase the new album plus his all-star concert CD (with Johnny Marr on guitar!) for only $10 each from the merch table. I'll admit, I need to catch up on the latest material, so this is a start.
There were many other moments I'm forgetting, but it was truly a great evening. The man knows how to put on a show -- as he should, having joined Split Enz at the tender age of 15 and been performing ever since. This was also the last date of his U.S. tour, so he really went all-out to play the crowd pleasers and stretch out the evening for us all.
I definitely regret not having gone to see one of his concerts the last time I remember him touring the U.S. (1998?), though I don't have too much to complain about, as I was fortunate enough to attend the taping of the Sessions at West 54th episode that fall on which he was featured. Even better, the almost-complete performance was later released as a DVD, so I can always pop that in and relive that show. (Though I can't really spot myself in the audience -- I'm one of those black dots behind the drummer, and that's about it.) Mysteriously, a couple of songs were left off, such as a rave-up version of Split Enz song "I See Red," which we actually saw them perform three times in a row, if I recall, since the first two takes were not deemed acceptable. But an wonderful souvenir nonetheless.
Posted by nstop at July 23, 2002 03:11 AM
I remember going to my local record store just to buy Temple of Low Men on the very day it was released (sometime in June or July 1988). I listened to that record so many times that summer. Still wonderful, esp. "I Feel Possessed."
Oh, and someone did do the obligatory shout-out for "Freebird." What's a rock show without that when the band is taking requests?