Tonight (25 November), the brothers Finn, Seymour, Hart and Sherrod take to the steps of the Sydney Opera House as Crowded House. As shit as 2016 was, this is already the best Christmas ever.
A quick time warp: mid-set, a magic moment arrives. “This one is for Paul [Hestor],” says Neil Finn, as coincidental Luna Park fireworks are going off under the coat hangar, the snobs are in their toaster, and Sydney is in the throws of a perfect, crowded opera house hug. It's beautiful.
But before addressing the national treasure that are the brothers Finn et al, we must discuss the opening act. Kirin J Callinan tells us he was moved to tears on reading the email being asked to open for these shows. But... what am I seeing? What is that? An '80s Depeche Mode, artful dodger meets bleached-dream-catcher-mullet-party-front-and-back freak with pitched-up guitar, earrings as far as the ear can pierce and forgotten flashdance moves. It's kind of all over the place. Kirin is like the lovechild of an '80s Madonna and Rowland S. Howard (RIP).Image © Facebook
Crowded House take to the stage clad in monastic robes. The feckin messers. But it's not long before the hits hit. The great circular quay in the sky turns to unlock the heavenly gates to 'Fall At Your Feet'. It turns into a group singing lesson. 'World Where We Live' is perfect.
I should mention the suits. Do I dock or add marks for the fact that Neil is rocking the same suit the night of the ARIAs, this Friday night, and the following Sunday night TV broadcast to the entire Australian nation? Or maybe he bought five of them. I'll file it under rock & roll. Nice suits though, to a man.
The backdrop and lighting are impressive, looking even better on TV. 'Fingers Of Love' – a fave from their '96 set at the same location – is a bit less anthemic than I recall. The volume could be up a bit. Feckin toaster! But the poetic bravery and #stillgotit-ness of Neil Finn's vocals and axe work carry the day.
'Private Universe' warms all the poetic hearts gathered. 'Pineapple Head' veers into the Beatles-esque 'equal to the love you make' quadrant. And that's a fair question? Who are Crowded House? Are they the ANZ Beatles? Or Beach Boys? Or Eagles? No dude, they have their own beach community. No doubt informed by their time in the US of A early on, and now half of the band (Hart and Sherrod) they are their own miracle. Adored by all.
On sipping from his galactic water bottle, Seymour momentarily suggests they consider renaming the band to 'Sentinels Of Quench'. Call it what you want. Here comes Tim! Finn the elder adds a decided level of star power and goddamn X factor. And the whole spirit of the show lifts.
And the heaviness of the hits. 'It's Only Natural'; what a guitar line. And the 'we came out of the same womb' harmonies. Unbeatable. Genuine love between the two bros. We all want in on the hugs.
A random tangent by Seymour into 'Groove Is In The Heart': “don't you wish you'd written that bassline?” It's followed by the anthemic 'Don't Dream It's Over', 'Something So Strong' and the gorgeous closer 'You'd Better Be Home Soon'.
Tim Finn – an honest, good egg forever – shares words to this effect: “We are happy to play for you, to give you comfort, to give you inspiration. We couldn't ask for more.” Neither could we mate. Thanks lads.