This Neil and Liam Finn article was written by Jen Taylor, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson
Asbestos was the culprit that closed the Bloomsbury Theatre, leading to Neil and Liam Finn scrambling to find another venue that would hold their three-night sell-out crowd. Thankfully, the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire came to the rescue, fitting everyone in over a two-night spread.
With doors opening at 7pm, people were getting jittery as the time was making its way towards 8, when two guys walked out on stage. As soon as they began talking, it was obvious they were New Zealanders (and to those die-hard fans that one of them was in fact the youngest Finn, Elroy), and before long they had the audience in fits of laughter merely from an announcement about not using flash photography. New Zealanders have a very specific and quirky sense of humour.
As the laughter was dying down, the legend himself Neil Finn, and his extremely talented son (and artist in his own right) Liam Finn arrived on stage as the chuckles turned into cheers from the receptive crowd.
The show started boldly with the two of them performing stunning acoustic renditions of ‘Edible Flowers’ and ‘English Trees ‘(both Neil songs) broken up by ‘Energy Spent ‘(Liam song). These three songs were stripped back, filled with raw emotion, and focussed on how Neil and Liam’s voices go together in a way that is entirely goosebump-inducing.
As soon as the emotive 3-song intro was over, Liam announced “behold, there’s another one”, and Elroy came onstage to take his spot at the drum kit. Suddenly the whole family were there: dad Neil, sons Liam and Elroy, mother Sharon, and may-as-well-be-family, Liam’s long-time friend and musical collaborator EJ Barnes.
The audience demographic suggested they were primarily fans of Neil and his various projects, which is not surprising considering the name he has made for himself over the years. He doesn’t need to be defined by Crowded House though; while a few select favourites were played from the back catalogues of both Crowded House and Split Enz to the great joy of the audience, songs from his solo album are also excellent. ‘Better Than T.V’. from Neil’s latest album was a total stand-out, as the powerful music and voices came together to remind everyone exactly what magic the Finns can create live.
However, a sing-along to the classics ‘Distant Sun’ and ‘Four Seasons’ in ‘One Day’ never fails to impress, and the audience felt connected to each other and the Finns, as everyone belted out the lyrics they all knew so well. These songs also pulled everyone out of their seats, so that there were rows of people standing right up by the stage.
There were moments that made these legends seem human, like when a pedal on an unused guitar was left on during ‘Neurotic World’, which buzzed along with the song. The banter between songs provided by the Finns was fantastic. They were so down-to-earth and utterly hilarious.
There were many instrument swaps during the show. At one point Liam went back to the drums, and Elroy got to play with his big brother’s pedal board, with Neil asking what cool sounds he could make with it. Neil shared his time between the piano and his red guitar, and there was even a Theremin featured during Liam’s song ‘Miracle Glance’, which Liam held out in front of him as if it were the skull from Hamlet, and he were singing a soliloquy to it; the sound of the Theremin had everyone transfixed as it wailed above the music.
This night was truly legendary, a combination of two of the best artists and performers around, who obviously just love what they’re doing. It was surprising to see how all the different songs came together so well, with everyone onstage having something special to add to each other’s music.