Friday, 29 July 2011

RAndom Review #90 Neil Finn & Friends - Live At The St James

C2S6CD10 Sometimes live albums should come with a label that says, “you had to be there” to warn us that to the casual listener this might not be a good choice, but some could equally have a label that says “in case you could get there” and this label falls into the latter category but could have easily in the former.

Neil Finn (ex Split Enz and Crowded House) pulls together an all star band, Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Johnny Marr (The Smiths) Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway (Radiohead) to pay tribute to one of his former bands, Split Enz, and make some money for charity. They practice for a couple of days before playing a gig, you invite your older brother to play, (albeit Tim Finn), and even let your teenage son and his mates have a crack at a song. You can see how this might have been a disaster. However what you get is a load of great musicians having a great time with no egos in the room and it shines out of the album. There is a DVD of this album which adds some narrative to the album, and you see that the guys on this album all love playing music, Johnny Marr arrives at the practice rooms direct from the airport and a 20 hour flight, and instead of going to sleep, picks up a guitar and says right where we up to, Eddie Vedder has arrived early so that he can surf for a few days prior to the gig.

The CD is crammed with 16 tracks mostly old Split Enzs songs, but you get Johnny and Neil singing The Smith classic There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, (Neil Finn surpirsing doing a great job of the vocals) Parting Ways a Vedder tune and an encore of Don’t Dream It’s Over, the Crowded House Classic. Highlights for me are Anytime a newer Neil Finn solo track which is beautiful and Liam Finn (Neil’s Son) and his band running through the punkish I See Red, which was written by Tim Finn whilst in Split Enz, Tim helps out on keyboards but taking on vocals is Eddie Vedder, how cool would that be to in a band with your school mates and when you get a gig you get Eddie Vedder to be your vocalist!! Quietly playing on most tracks are the guys from Radiohead, arguably the 2 biggest artists on this stage however such is the feel of this album they do what they do best, play music with no fuss and allow the rest to the fancy stuff.

This concert was played in New Zealand and I suspect if this band toured they could sell out any concert hall at any city in the world, (I’d be there). They re-united in 2009 and instead of playing existing songs decided to write entirely new material, reviewing this album has reminded me that I need to buy the last album.

Whether a lover of Split Enz, Crowded House, The Finn Brothers, or just good music there a lot to like on this album.

Mark 9/10

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