22 Sep 2023

Review: The Lives and Times of Tim Finn, Wellington concert

6:37 pm on 22 September 2023
The Lives and Times of Tim Finn - tour poster

The Lives and Times of Tim Finn - tour poster Photo: Supplied

Review - The lights went down, the band came on stage and started to play and then the lights went off, completely, and the band stopped. "That was my mistake," Tim Finn punned, before they all launched full throttle into the 1977 Split Enz classic 'My Mistake'.

I wasn't sure what to expect at the Thursday night concert at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington, but the concert's title The Lives and Times of Tim Finn should have given me a clue. In the end, whatever expectations I had, they were well exceeded.

The six-piece band accompanying Finn was excellent, both during the high energy numbers and the slower more introspective ones. They included Finn's daughter Elliot Finn on backing vocals and percussion, Brett Adams (ex The Mockers) on lead guitar, Tony Buchen on bass and a one-off harmonica solo, Carlos Adura on drums, Niall Anderson on keyboard, and multi-talented Carlo Babaro who played a range of saxes, and a piccolo. Finn himself also picked up an acoustic guitar and at times played a grand piano.

The venue was full with the vast majority of the audience looking to be over 40 - not surprising when you consider that Finn, who is now 70, has a body of work stretching back to the 1970s.

Much to my delight another Split Enz song, the high speed, high energy 'I See Red', was second up. It was every bit as frenetic and dancey as I remembered it back in the day - maybe even more so given it was live.

Things then mellowed with Elliot Finn singing the start of 'Stuff and Nonsense' before her father took over, followed by Split Enz's 1980 hit 'Poor Boy' off the album True Colours.

Finn gave context to the songs throughout the night, dedicating 'Nobody Takes Me Seriously' to all those who have been in dead end jobs that they hated. He described how the members of Split Enz had to suffer day jobs before devoting themselves to music full-time. He said the best of these was a post office job that effectively allowed them to clock on and clock out allowing time for the day dreaming and creativity music required.

It cranked up yet another level with 'Shark Attack' with the band pulling off the fast dense sound the song requires. Still working his way through the 1980s Finn and the band played hit after hit including 'I Hope I Never' and 'Six Months in a Leaky Boat'.

'Dirty Creatures' with its pounding bass line was revealed to be about Finn's mental health struggles which he said his band mates had helped him through.

I confess that although I have always been a fan of Split Enz, I never really enjoyed the music of Crowded House in the same way. That said the three Crowded House songs Finn and the band played at the end of the show, namely 'Chocolate Cake', 'It's Only Natural' and the mega-hit 'Weather with You', sounded fabulous, making me re-evaluate my earlier lukewarm reception of them.

Some members of the audience finally rushed up to the stage to dance during the first song of the encore - 'Charlie' - which was first released on the album Dizrythmia in 1977. To be honest I couldn't quite believe there was no one up and dancing during 'I See Red' and 'Shark Attack', but maybe it was just too early in the evening. The hits kept coming with last two songs of the night Split Enz's 'Hard Act to Follow' and 'Staring at the Embers' off Finn's album of the same name.

All in all an excellent night out getting reacquainted with many of the songs that comprised the fabric of my youth. The energy, musical accomplishment and solos of the band only adding to the classic songs of Finn's oeuvre.

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