Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A crowded house for Crowded House

It's a good thing that New Zealand's Crowded House isn't managed by a Deputy Cultural Attaché named Murray out of the New York consulate office 'coz they wouldn't get any gigs! The good managers of Crowded House have seen fit to send the band our way for the second time in less than 12 months. As I've blogged before, this quartet led by peerless melody merchant Neil Finn is one of the best live bands in the world.

For the second of show its two-night engagement in the small Somerville theater (20 minutes from Boston) the band stayed true to its tradition of unique setlists each night with a dynamic mix of brand new material, singalong favorites, and rarely played deep cuts off its 5 studio albums. When the band bounded on stage last night, they were uniformly dressed in smart suits but, oh dear, Neil's haircut looked like that of Seiji Ozawa or Worzel Gummidge. It badly needs a prune, preferably with a lawn mower.
In great spirits, the boys engaged in great stage banter and flying balsa-wood airplanes around the stage. (Crowd heckler: "Crowded House is Massive!" Neil's response as he self-consciously untucked his shirt: "I know we've all gained a few pounds around the middle but, come on, it's unfair to call us massive.") At one point, Neil tried to play his bottle of Poland Springs by blowing across the spout like pan pipes. He couldn't master it, so drummer Matt Sherrod showed him how. That prompted the rest of the band to start jamming around Matt's water bottle playing as Neil sang an old-timey song that I didn't recognize.
The foursome were playing really well and, since I was on Nick Seymour's side of the stage, I could distinctly hear his basslines and appreciate just how melodic a player he is. Sherrod's drumming is groovy and powerful. Mark Hart's guitar playing was sharp, concise, and beautiful. As for Neil, he played two incredible guitar solos during two of the new songs, "Lucky" and "Turn It Round," that rank right up there with his guitar work in "Fingers of Love" (which didn't get an airing tonight). Apart from a new song called "Beautiful Life," a piano ballad that didn't really register in the memory banks," the other three new songs we heard were outstanding, especially one called "Either Side of the World." The support act, New Zealander Don McGlashan, had some great songs in his set and he often popped on stage to add guitar, trumpet, and trombone to the songs.

Here's the setlist:
Recurring Dream (from "Afterglow" and very rare!)
Don't Stop Now
Turn It Round (new)
Lucky (new)
Private Universe
Into Temptation
Either Side of the World (new)
Whispers and Moans
Beautiful Life (new)
Pour Le Monde
Chocolate Cake (rare!)
The Only Way to Go (new)
World Where You Live
Something So Strong
Love You Till I Die (rare!)
Pineapple Head
Distant Sun
Weather With You
Don't Dream It's Over
She Goes On
Four Seasons in One Day

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