C is for Crowded House

Thursday 30th August

Crowded House was the band behind the genius of Neil Finn, younger brother of Tim, with whom he has more than occasionally collaborated.  Neil started out in his older brother’s band Split Enz, a New Zealand group in the seventies, who combined brilliant songwriting with an anarchy and ‘joie de vivre’ which made them both entertaining and orginal.  I saw them in the early seventies at the Roundhouse, they all had multicoloured suits and spiky coloured hair, long before punk, they played fast and kept swapping instruments, and it was organized chaos on stage.  But the songs were always good, and when Neil joined them the songs got even better.  The band sort of died when Tim, the ringleader, went solo.  In the early eighties Neil suddenly emerged with a small band of three and Crowded House was born.  They only had four original albums but these were crammed with great songs from ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over’ to ‘Chocolate Cake’.  They had a meteoric rise and fame took its toll and the band broke up, Neil going solo for a while, and though the songwriting was still good, the solo albums seldom get played nowadays.  The band has reformed recently but somehow they aren’t such fun anymore.  And fun was what they were all about.  I saw them quite a few times and each concert was brilliant, full of jokes and banter and wonderful songs.  They were easily the best band of the eighties, live and on record, and amid all the synthesizers and smart suits and continuing commercialization of the music business they reminded us what great music should sound like.  And they are also the band who always take the weather with them.