Friday, September 14, 2007

Don't Stop Now

Atlanta was fortunate enough on Wednesday evening to be graced with the genius of Neil Finn and the re-formed Crowded House. On a night that brought the old-timers (like me) out to the Tabernacle, Neil ("Full of Zeal") did not disappoint. Just when opening act Pete Yorn had me questioning why it is that I even like live music at all (with his thirty or so guitarists on stage, all playing the same thing and all, except maybe the Elvis Costello impersonator, apparently even more bored than I), Crowded House immediately reminded me of the joy of live music.

Neil Finn is simply one of the all-time greatest songwriters (if there is anyone better at turning a melody, his or her name is probably Lennon or McCartney) and performers, and the band was in excellent form. It being the last proper show on the tour (of sorts -- I believe they're playing the Austin City Limits festival today), Neil's voice was a little worn, but the crowd was able and more than willing to join in and help out on the vocals. Mr. Finn seemed to take no small measure of delight in this, repeatedly engaging the effusive crowd in impromptu sing-a-longs between songs, and taking the time to teach the backing vocals to his exuberant students before a couple of the numbers. Needless to say, it was a warm reception.

The set (plus two lengthy encores) featured highlights spanning the band's incredible career, along with a generous dose of songs from their excellent new record, Time On Earth. If you haven't picked this one up yet, add it to your list of things to do. It's a mature offering, almost somber in some places (perhaps not a surprising reaction to original drummer Paul Hester's 2005 suicide), and in many ways reminiscent of some of Finn's best solo work (e.g., "Don't Stop Now"), yet has a few instant classics ("She Called Up") that could easily have been featured on an early Crowded House release. In short, Time On Earth sounds less like a reunion record than a band hitting a new found stride. Don't dream it's over, indeed.

MP3: Crowded House - "She Called Up" from Time On Earth

(Expect the Classic Bootleg Series to resume next week!)