You are going to have to forgive me about song titles, but from the moment Neil opened with something from the new one, One All (the retooled version of One Nil), he won me over. He’s definitely getting on in years but still has a great boyish voice. His band seemed to be from the US, and Neil was constantly kidding his guitarist, Sean, about how “intellectual” he looked with his new glasses. I think there was also three mobile phone calls made on the stage, including one from Lisa Germano, who couldn’t make it (sick cat).
Anyway, Neil featured many songs from the new one but also dug back into his previous solo album and the Crowded House days. “Lazing On a Sunny Afternoon” (by the Kinks) found its way into the middle of one song and a while later he dedicated a version of the Smiths’ “There Is a Light” to Johnny Marr. (Actually, I found out later that Marr played with him on the live Seven Worlds Collide album and DVD.)
What I was impressed with was the Finn’s ability to combine apparent simplicity and directness with words that aren’t always the most obvious, and occasional willingness to let a piece mutate into some kind of chamber of motifs before reconstituting itself into a song again. For example, “Recurring Dream” was reduced to just one verse, most of the rest of it being replaced by some inventive guitar play with a digital delay. To me it seemed that Finn was more adept that the resulting melodic invention than trying to take more conventional-sounding solos on the more “rock”-oriented numbers. Although when Sebastian Steinberg was on acoustic bass on “Now We’re Getting Somewhere,” I could also imagine Finn as the new millennium’s answer to Roy Orbison, such was the elegance he lent to basic rock-and-roll song form.
And oh yeah, he did “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” as part of the encore, and it was sublime.