Neil & Liam Finn @ Chevron Gardens
w/ The Money War
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Perth Festival is off to a flying start with sold out shows being the norm during the first week. A drawcard as big as Neil Finn, his sons and his band packed the venue to the rafters, as was to be expected.
Dylan Ollivierre (Rainy Day Women) and Carmen Pepper (Warning Birds) conceived their latest project, The Money War when they were in holiday in America, and have since grown into one of the bright lights on the local scene. Since making their name as a duo, The Money War have recently added numbers to flesh out their sound. A classy pop band that were well suited to the opening slot, they were treated respectfully by the crowd who lifted their eyes from their phones and put their conversations on hold to focus on the fresh hooks and tight harmonies. With the band heading off to SXSW (South By Southwest) soon, they are sure to turn heads.
The father and son team of Neil Finn and Liam Finn are musical savants, and it was pretty clear from early on that they were going to give a varied set of tunes. Knowing how to get the crowd engaged from the opening chords of the night, Neil Finn showed all his decades of experience as a frontman during Crowded House favourite, Distant Sun. Liam Finn took centre stage with a mass of hair, beard and white pants that brought back memories of Dennis Wilson. He also showed a passion for the music of the 70’s with Better To Be including a meandering guitar solo that showed his prowess, though it outstayed its welcome.
Liam kicked his younger brother Elroy off the drums when backing his father through Chameleon Days, a song that appears on Neil’s latest album Out of Silence released last August, recorded in four hours in a live stream to the public. Co-produced by Liam, the album was impetus for their pairing on this night.
Chameleon Days is a pleasant enough song that saw Neil on keys, but doesn’t hold a candle to the hits of his past. Father and son then made their way through tunes from their forthcoming album, with all members of the band swapping instruments regularly to give each song a different feel and configuration. There was the melodies that the Finns’ are known for, with moments of AM radio classic rock and even a brief dose of prog rock thrown in for good measure.
The Finn’s then drew the crowd back in with a brawny and extended take on Private Universe. Liam pulled out a theremin that he theatrically named Geraldine before proceeding with Miracle Glance. Halfway through the tune, the theremin stopped working much to the dismay of the beleaguered singer. While his father may be an understated performer, Liam is the opposite. Appearing to thrive on the limelight, he gestures and banters with the crowd, and puts notes in songs where space may suffice. Whilst a ridiculously skilled musician, it is his busyness that is his greatest downfall.
Neil Finn may be considered one of the finest songwriters of his generation for his work in Crowded House, but he reminded all in attendance that he had plenty of chops in his earlier days with Split Enz. History Never Repeats and I Got You had punters singing and dancing as he grinned a knowing smile.
Liam led the band through Cold Feet. The song was a simple power pop number with a chorus that followed you home, and was by far his brightest moment of the night. It was at such odds with his cluttered tunes to this point and showed that behind the showboating there is a smart artist hiding. The obvious close to the evening came in the form of pseudo-national anthem Better Be Home Soon.
Neil Finn and Liam Finn offered a curious night with opposing songwriting and performing styles that saw great distance between the peaks and the troughs. Many would go home happy to have heard some of their favourite radio hits, but also scratching their head at some of the remaining filler.
Photos by Matsu Photography