Friday, October 16, 2015

Neil Finn - Solo With Strings

It’s Tuesday, so it must be gig night. Normally we’d be out dancing on a Tuesday, but Neil Finn is in town, and he failed to consult us on our schedule before going  ahead and booking the Opera House for his Solo With Strings concert.

Dinner first, and we took ourselves to Muse On Allen, which is one of the new batch of fine dining restaurants in Wellington. I say “new” but it’s been around for a couple of years now. We’ve been there a few times before and it never fails to be excellent.

We walked up Courtenay Place to the Opera House, collected our tickets and took our place in the circle.

The support act was Liam Finn, who played 7 songs from his solo repertoire. Liam favours use of a loop effects pedal to provide a more layered sound to his guitar playing. It’s also a rockier style of guitar than his dad plays. (Yes, you guessed the connection!)

After a short interval, Neil Finn arrived on stage by himself, and played a number of songs on guitar and at the piano. He was then joined on stage by the rest of his band – Liam again, his wife Sharon on bass, and drummer; together with 12 strings from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, who had hot-footed over from playing Tosca at St James theatre to perform here. Hard-working or what?

The set list was quite different to the last time we saw Neil Finn play. The list had been chosen clearly to allow the NZSO to perform, so the songs weren’t the usual mix of greatest hits and standards – instead he has raided the back catalogue, and in particular Finn Brothers songs, so there was quite a lot of material in the set with which I wasn’t familiar. There were also quite a few from the latest album, Dizzy Heights. Some classic Crowded House songs were included – Fall At Your Feet and Distant Sun in the “solo” set, and Don’t Dream It’s Over with the NZSO. Split Enz also featured – One Step Ahead and the final song of the four-song encore, I Got You.

This was a very different experience to last year’s (has it really been a year? It seems so), and it has inspired me to go out and get The Finn Brothers album to add to my Finn playlist. I think Neil Finn is fast approaching “National Treasure” status in New Zealand.   

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