In late 2010, when Neil Finn played an intimate solo show in the York Theatre at the Seymour Centre in Sydney, he took the opportunity to say hello to some old friends from different parts of his life.
From the stage, he told the sold-out 800-strong audience, “I thank you for joining me tonight and allowing me to pass through a few eras and a few songs that I don’t get to play very often because it’s a very joyous thing for me. “
Ten years later Finn has nothing but great memories of that show, and of that trip down the time tunnel.
“I remember it fondly as a great room and an audience that was leaning forward and listening to every word.”
There was no specific reason about what it is about those old friends he needed to bring up onstage and breathe new life into them.
“I just made it up backstage an hour or so before … I can’t remember what sparked each choice.”
Having built up a loyal following with Split Enz and Crowded House, Neill Finn was able to dig into darker and more experimental themes on his solo albums.
“I am truly blessed,” he says of his audience’s willingness to come on his different journeys.
Neil Finn’s songs have appeared everywhere – band albums, solo records, documentaries, movies, and endless collaborations.
But he is at pains to point out that he doesn’t write for projects. Rather the songs emerge and land where they may.
The Seymour Centre saw the songs blend into each other, as Neil switched from guitar to piano, and infused the proceedings with humour and with wry quips like “Is it contradictory we’re in the Seymour Theatre (sic) and there’s no Nick Seymour?” and bringing up an audience member (Adriano) to play two-finger piano with him during ‘Anytime’. Brilliant.
Representing the solo albums are stand-outs like the melodic ‘Into The Sunset’ which Neil describes as “a literal inspiration sitting watching the sun go down at Piha (a beach on New Zealand’s north island) after a long time away.”
Not so literal are the numbers which have had fans debating about what he means.
One interpretation of ‘Try Whistling This’ is that Neil is ‘fessing up to turbulence within Crowded House and cites a well-known incident when an emotional Paul Hester in heels had an altercation with Finn.