Live Show Review: Crowded House at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 8/1/10
Like the Phoenix that rose from the ashes, Crowded House has apparently returned for good. Their 2007 comeback (after a 14-year absence), Time on Earth, proved to be a more mature and deliberate accomplishment than Crowdies had become accustomed to in the eighties and nineties. Now comes the band’s sixth studio album, Intriguer. This album continues on the path of maturity, but reaches back to the early days. Just a bit.
Neil Finn and company are once again on the road supporting a new album. The difference is that this seems to be the happiest time in the band’s life. And Neil brought along his son Liam (himself a successful recording artist) and his wife Sharon, who added beautiful harmonies to both Intriguer and this terrific show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta.
Finn opened the show with “I Feel Possessed,” from 1988’s critically acclaimed Temple of Low Men. This excellent selection was a definite crowd pleaser. After another classic (“In My Command”), the band swung into the new album with the first single, “Saturday Sun.” The song is reminiscent of the best Neil Finn has created.
Finn’s voice was even stronger than during their comeback tour in 2007 at this very venue. And once again joined by his son, Liam, who sang on “Silent House,” and “Say That Again.” A true surprise was Finn’s wife, Sharon showing up. Sharon has harmonized with her husband on several songs and sang with the band on the new “Archer’s Arrows” and “Isolation.” Sharon took the stage just after Finn performed a one-man miracle of “Message To My Girl,” the 1983 Split Enz song he wrote for her (“No more empty self possession / Visions swept under the mat / It’s no New Year’s resolution, it’s more than that”).
A little out-of-the-ordinary moment was when Crowded House performed their first (and arguably best) single, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” in the middle of the show, as opposed to the end of the show. This song has been the signature final song at CH live shows for years. Finn has shaken it up after singing that song live for 25 years. Understandable.
Other highlights included “Distant Sun,” “Whispers And Moans,” “Private Universe,” “Something So Strong,” and “Locked Out.” Finn still pulls the fans in to several sing-alongs for each show. And these sing-alongs are incredible. Everyone in the place knew the words and were able to sing them in perfect harmony. It was a joyous noise. Finn and original CH member Nick Seymour (bass) have been together since the demise of Slit Enz and the birth of Crowded House in 1985. Mark Hart (guitar, keyboards, etc.) has been with the band since the 1993 album Together Alone and drummer Matt Sherrod joined the group permanently for Time On Earth. Sherrod takes what the late, great Paul Hester did and adds some UMPH.
As a collective, this foursome works together like a well-oiled machine. Always smiling and often joking, these guys provided much entertainment aside from the excellent music. Finn has a dry and quick sense of humor. He exhibited that sense of humor when a young lady jumped on stage during the final number, “Better Be Home Soon.” After dancing like a cheerleader possessed for a few seconds, the audience (and surely the cheerleader) fully expected for security to yank her off stage. It didn’t happen. Apparently CH didn’t pay for that level of protection. So, she danced and gyrated throughout the entire song. Finn spontaneously broke into Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing.” And the band followed. So, without letting this moment ruin an otherwise perfect evening, the crowd left the Tabernacle in a great mood.
After years of Lennon/McCartney comparisons, Finn continues to create some of pop/rock’s most listenable and intelligent music. Please Neil, don’t stop now.
Opener Lawrence Arabia, also from New Zealand, warmed up the show nicely with familiar pop hooks and harmonies.
For the Intriguer review, click HERE.
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” live in Atlanta