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Live Review: Neil Finn

1 June 2015 | 3:23 pm | Rebecca Neilsen

"We’re singing and it matters not. This song does not age. It does not wither and fade. It does not bore and grate."

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Objectivity be damned, the man is a national treasure claimed by two countries.

And he’s singing When You Come. Just him and an acoustic guitar and you feel everyone in the audience let the stresses of the week drop from their shoulders. You can hear them whisper the lyrics to every song. And by the time he’s teaching us our humming part for Gentle Hum, we’ve all settled in and the whisper is a little louder but still a might self-conscious. When audience member Liz clambers on stage for the three-note piano part in Anytime we’ve kicked off our figurative shoes and we’re a touch louder again but still don’t want to drown out the voice coming from the stage.

Then two songs later when, at the end of the first hour, he’s there serving us Don’t Dream It’s Over for what for most of us in the audience would be the umpteenth time, we’re singing and it matters not. This song does not age. It does not wither and fade. It does not bore and grate. It soars and audience voices do too – and we’re ready for the previously alluded to surprise of the night.

Members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra appear on stage and we’re hearing One Step Ahead as we’ve never heard it before. Deliciously sinister, this new arrangement has a lot in common with the soundtrack to the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho and brings the darkness of this Split Enz classic to the fore. Suddenly Finn is creepy stalker boy and not preppy ‘80s pop tunesmith.

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With shades of the ‘90s Enzso project, the rest of the show is not a reworking of songs as such. It’s more we get to hear them from another angle, or from another ear, with the arrangements for the ACO by Victoria Kelly.

All traces of self-consciousness gone, we’re full-throated for the final three songs and it’s lovely. Like your favourite PJs straight off the washing line after drying in the winter sun.