Axver (axver) wrote,

  • Music:

Split Enz, 2006-06-07, Brisbane.

Split Enz are back, and it felt like they'd never gone anywhere. The quality of the band's performance last night was outstanding; you certainly couldn't tell that, besides a few one-offs, the band had been disbanded for roughly two decades. Considering the fact Split Enz had essentially ceased to be an entity before I was even born, I never thought I would have the chance to see them live, and they certainly lived up to every expectation I could've had. I'd also like to say I'm delighted that it was the first night of the band's tour, as that stopped me from ruining any surprises by looking at setlists from earlier dates! If you're going to a later date and don't want spoilers, don't waste your time clicking the cuts because just about everything I've written is filled with spoilers.

But before I get to Split Enz, I'll write a bit about the opening band, a trio of brothers from Feilding, New Zealand called Evermore. I think I've accurately remembered their setlist. I know the first four and last four are right - the point of doubt is that there may have been another song between them, but I don't think so.

1. For One Day
2. Come To Nothing
3. Never Let You Go - new song from forthcoming album
4. Into The Ocean (Calling You)
5. Slipping Away
6. Light Surrounding - new song, title may be wrong
7. It's Too Late
8. Running - new song

Well, after their show began with a bit of a false start (the wrong intro played), Evermore proved to be quite good and solid. The sound mix wasn't all it should've been (though it was very clear for Split Enz later), with some of the sound quite muddied, but the band were energetic and seemed keen to be there. Their guitarist (who doubles as lead singer) included some nice additions and short solos here and there, which pleased me, and as far as an opening band goes, they got some decent audience participation. Unfortunately, the first new song, Never Let You Go, wasn't all too good - as soon as it was introduced, I thought "crap, cliche title" and although it had some nice vocal harmonies at the start and finish, it otherwise pretty much lived up to its title. The other two new songs were much better though, especially Running, which made for a good closer. I was hoping they'd play Everyone (Moving On) as their closer, as it's my favourite off their debut album, but it wasn't to be.

All in all, I enjoyed them and so did Luke and my mother, who accompanied me to the concert. I was going to pick up their latest EP after the show, but it was so bloody crowded that I just gave up.

Now, the Enz! For the tragically uninformed, Split Enz is one of the most legendary, not to mention unique, bands to come from New Zealand (which would explain why they are called Split Enz). They formed in 1972 and released a number of albums over the next decade, with their last in 1984. The line-up last night was the same behind possibly their most famous success, 1980's True Colours, and they played superbly. The setlist was (arrows signify segues):

1. Shark Attack
2. Poor Boy
3. One Step Ahead
4. Give It A Whirl
5. Nobody Takes Me Seriously
6. Jamboree -->
7. Double Happy
8. I Hope I Never
9. Message To My Girl
10. Dirty Creature
11. Years Go By
12. Stuff And Nonsense
13. The Devil You Know
14. Matinee Idyll (129) -->
15. Noel Crombie's Spoon Solo
16. Strait Old Line
17. Pioneer -->
18. Six Months In A Leaky Boat
19. I Got You -->
20. What's The Matter With You
21. I See Red

Encore 1:
22. Take A Walk
23. Charlie
24. My Mistake

Encore 2:
25. Bold As Brass
26. Time For A Change
27. History Never Repeats

I'll get the complaints out of the way first. My biggest complaint is that they played Jamboree and Charlie, two songs I find rather dull, though the irony is that just as I started saying "why did they have to play one of my least favourites?" during Charlie to Luke, they launched into some cool guitar work and redeemed the song's inclusion. I can't say I leapt for joy when they played Bold As Brass either. I also think part of the middle of the main set was just a bit too continuously mellow and soft. Looking back on it, it seems quite solid, but for Mum and Luke, who weren't so familiar with some of the songs, it would've been nice if a bigger hit had been fit in there - maybe they could've kept Poor Boy for later, after maybe Stuff And Nonsense or The Devil You Know. My other complaint is of course the typical one that everyone has after almost any show: they didn't play such-and-such-a-song. I got to see almost every song I could've wanted to see, but I didn't get my favourite Split Enz song, Hermit McDermitt, and it would've been wildly appropriate for them to open or close either the main set or one of the encores with Hard Act To Follow. Now, with that out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.

As soon as the band took the stage, it was clear we were in for something special. They kicked off with a frantic, energetic Shark Attack, and the first five songs were simply superb and packed with momentum. When Tim announced they were going to play a song off Frenzy, I yelled "PLAY HERMIT MCDERMITT!", but alas, it was Give It A Whirl - nonetheless, my third favourite off the album and a song I did not expect to hear. Then they hit Jamboree, which as I said I was not too excited to hear, but the band played it well and it was enjoyable, especially when it segued into Double Happy. After Double Happy was I Hope I Never, which was sung and performed beautifully but I think the studio version is superior; live, it was just too raw, a quality that often benefits songs but didn't in this case. More positively, I was absolutely thrilled that they played Dirty Creature! That's one of my top five Enz songs and earlier in the day, when Luke and I were playing Enz songs, I remarked that "they've just got to play this one! Oh, I hope they do." It was indeed quite excellent.

Possibly the most apt setlist inclusion came after Dirty Creature, Years Go By, which contains the chorus of "years go by wondering what you did". It was followed by an inclusion I didn't expect at all - I figured we'd get either I Hope I Never OR Stuff And Nonsense, not both, but we did! And Stuff And Nonsense was the most beautiful song of the night; I have a huge soft spot for that song and felt quite moved. It was followed by a song I admittedly barely know, The Devil You Know, and then Matinee Idyll, dedicated to founding member Phil Judd. It led into Noel Crombie's spoon solo, which is absolutely one of the coolest, funniest, oddest things you could ask to see live. Noel Crombie is officially bloody awesome. Not much after that, Pioneer started and I struggled to hide a smirk - Luke had been humming Six Months In A Leaky Boat all day, but as I hadn't actually put ALL of Time And Tide on his iPod, he had not the faintest of clues that Six Months In A Leaky Boat was preceded by Pioneer. I sat there thinking "should I tell him? Naaahh, this'll be good". And it was - definitely one of the highlights of the night. I was hoping that at the end, Neil Finn would again launch into a huge solo like he did at the Finn Brothers show last year, but instead, the song drew to a close and the band burst into I Got You, which was just as good as a big solo and full of energy. It led into a very energetic What's The Matter With You, far stronger than on the album, and I See Red was a rocking way to end the main set. All in all, I was surprised the main set contained so many songs, and quite satisfied with it.

The Brisbane crowd was very vocal in their insistence for an encore, and the band didn't make us wait long. It was at this point that I began hoping they'd charge out and play the opening notes of either Hard Act To Follow or History Never Repeats, especially HNR as it was now the only one of my top five favourite Enz songs that I hadn't heard (except for Hermit McDermitt, which I never expected to hear in the first place; the other three are Dirty Creature, I Got You, and Six Months In A Leaky Boat). Instead, the band played a very good version of Take A Walk, but I couldn't help but feel disappointed when it was followed by Charlie. However, Neil inserted some cool guitarwork, and Charlie was followed by a fantastic performance of My Mistake, another one of my favourites. It was definitely one of the songs I enjoyed the most, and one of the most interactive of the night, with Tim leading sections of the crowd in singing various parts of the song.

When the second encore started with Bold As Brass, I just about despaired for hearing History Never Repeats. I was wondering if maybe my earlier hope that they would "definitely play it" (as I told Luke) was woefully misplaced. I told myself not to fear just yet, but when the next song was Time For A Change, I thought "they might play an epic solo at the end of this to conclude the show". Indeed, there was a solo, then Tim made a speech as if the show was over, thanking us all for coming out. But then! "The Enz is back on the road again" followed by - yep - the opening notes of History Never Repeats! My voice was already hoarse from singing along, and my initial reaction was slower and more subdued than you'd expect simply because I was so shocked. It was a "no, they're not playing it!" sort of surprise, and I got right into the song. Absolutely the most fun I had all night, screaming out the lyrics with the band, and while Split Enz isn't exactly the kind of band you can headbang to, my mop of hair was nonetheless flying around a bit. In fact, I discovered I can actually hit the tip of my nose with my hair. I think this is a sure sign I need a haircut.

At the end of History Never Repeats, which was the perfect closer, the band received a standing ovation from the appreciative Brisbane crowd, who had packed the Entertainment Centre to a sell-out. Earlier in the show, Neil remarked that "this feels right", and he was correct: the entire night felt absolutely right. The band clearly had great chemistry and energy on stage, and I hope that these few Australian dates are not the end for the Enz. Indeed, during the show, I yelled out rather loudly "RECORD ANOTHER ALBUM!", which got some laughs and exclamations of "YEAH!" from other members of the audience.

In summary, Split Enz were nothing short of 10 out of 10. It was definitely worth the money to see them, and if anyone reading this has the chance to see them over this tour, go! You won't regret it.
Tags: brisbane, concerts, finn brothers, kiwi music, live music, music, neil finn, split enz, tim finn

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