Axver (axver) wrote,

  • Music:

Crowded House with The Walls and Augie March, 8 November 2007, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

OK, it's about time I reviewed a couple of the concerts I've seen lately. I've been meaning to for over a week, but university was hectic right up until the end. My last assessment item of the year was an exam on Wednesday, and since then I've been kicking back and relaxing. I've been reading LJ, but I've honestly been just a little too lazy to actually write anything. Time to break out of that slothfulness and put fingers to keyboard.

The first show was Crowded House on 8 November, with The Walls and Augie March as the support bands. Apart from Augie March, it was a really fantastic concert. As the setlist addict that I am, I noted down the setlists for all the bands. Crowded House's set was obviously easy, as I know their entire catalogue very well; The Walls' singer introduced most of the tracks and those he didn't name were easy to figure out from checking their site and consulting my notes; Augie March's singer only introduced the last two so I had to write lyrics for the rest and hope I got them right. I think my sets are accurate, or close to it.

Setlist for The Walls:

1. Black And Blue
2. Bone Deep
3. Bird In A Cage
4. Passing Through
5. Know Your Love
6. To The Bright And Shining Sun
7. Drowning Pool

I felt really sorry for The Walls. Doors were meant to open at 7:30, and Kate and I got there with nearly half an hour to spare, so we went into the concourse, sat down by the door we were meant to use, and passed the time until suddenly, at 7:15, we heard noises from within Rod Laver Arena. We looked up and saw the door had suddenly been opened, so we shot in and The Walls were already on stage! They started pretty much the second the doors were opened. That must have sucked so much for them, starting to effectively an empty venue.

Nonetheless, they seemed to put that aside and played a strong gig. Kate and I both really got into it. They played a relatively standard kind of rock, but they did it well, with passion and infectiousness. We both thought they were accessible. I think they were something like U2 meets Matchbox 20, without the socio-political preachiness of the former and with the sincerity and artistic integrity the latter is commonly perceived to lack.

As for the setlist structure and individual songs, I think they did a really good job. Black And Blue was an energetic opener that got us interested in their music. The next few songs maintained the feel but had enough stylistic diversity that they didn't sound like copies. Bird In A Cage is apparently a new song that hasn't been released yet, and it in particular was done to a high standard. It seemed to go for a while, which suited me fine as it was one of my favourites of their set and I found myself singing along to the chorus by the end. The fifth song, Know Your Love, was a welcome change of tempo, and were these guys really famous, I can imagine this would be one of those big, anthemic ballads that thousands of people sing along to. The next song, Bright And Shining Sun, was my other favourite of the night; it had a good atmosphere. The closer, Drowning Pool, was possibly the weakest: it really rocks and is a good way to end a set, but I thought it lacked some of the musical maturity and development of the other six songs. I really wish they'd played longer and to a larger, more enthusiastic audience. Kate and I tried to make a good deal of noise for them, though.

Setlist for Augie March:

1. Sunstroke House
2. Mother Greer
3. The Cold Acre
4. This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers
5. The Baron Of Sentiment
6. There's No Such Place
7. One Crowded Hour

I've seen worse support acts, but as I'm referring to Kings Of Leon and Kanye West, Augie March can hardly be proud of not going down as "worst support act in Axver concert history". They were truly a band who seemed to be trying a little bit hard to be clever and artistic, and at the end of the day, their banter with the crowd was more interesting than most of their songs. The opener, Sunstroke House, is quite simply the very worst opener I have ever heard - I could not imagine a song less suited to opening a concert. It is so agonisingly dull and plods at a mindnumbingly slow pace. Kate and I were both nearly asleep by its halfway stage. Maybe it would work in the middle of a set as an atmospheric change of pace, but as the first song, it instantly made us feel negatively about what they were doing. The set slowly picked up though, and I somewhat enjoyed This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers and The Baron Of Sentiment. And then they left us with One Crowded Hour, an infuriatingly memorable song that just gets on my nerves. Thanks, guys. The Walls deserved the largely full house and decent cheers that Augie March got.

Setlist for Crowded House:

1. Private Universe
2. Mean To Me
3. Don't Stop Now
4. Fall At Your Feet
5. Whispers And Moans
6. Heaven That I'm Making
7. She Called Up
8. Hole In The River
9. When You Come
10. A Sigh
11. Silent House
12. Don't Dream It's Over
13. Pour Le Monde
14. Distant Sun
15. Weather With You

16. Locked Out
17. Something So Strong
18. World Where You Live

19. Fingers Of Love
20. Four Seasons In One Day
21. Better Be Home Soon

Holy shit. This was an incredibly strong gig, and it dispelled whatever fears I may've had that the Crowdies had lost it and that the new stuff really just sounded like mellow Neil Finn solo material. I've seen Neil Finn live three times now, every time with a different band (2005 in the Finn Brothers, 2006 in Split Enz, and now 2007 in Crowded House), and I think his vocals were at their best this time around. I can't believe he's turning fifty this coming May; his voice sounds just as beautiful and crystal clear as it ever has. As for the rest of the band - Mark Hart is an absolute musical genius and he really adds another level to the Crowdies' sound; Matt Sherrod is a worthy replacement for Paul Hester; and Nick Seymour is a legend on so many levels. The banter between Neil and Nick was really genuinely funny. The one moment that sticks out is when Neil mentioned that Crowded House were formed in Melbourne and he briefly reminisced about when they lived in Melbourne before noting that none of them live here any more. Nick protested, asserting that he owns a house here, to which Neil replied "yeah, but that's an investment property!" Neil 1, Nick 0.

I'd heard that some gigs recently had opened with Private Universe. Now, some of the sets I've seen from earlier this year had such awesome openers as Recurring Dream and There Goes God, and I was a bit skeptical that a moody piece like Private Universe would work. I really shouldn't have doubted, especially not with Mark Hart around. Talk about setting an absorbing, engaging, and very warm mood from the opening notes. Following it with Mean To Me was a fantastic idea too, moving from atmospheric brilliance to one of the band's best sing-alongs. The band then hit us with some of the new songs, which sound so much better in concert, and some older numbers - the problem for me is that I really vividly remember Neil Finn playing the most stunningly beautiful solo version of Fall At Your Feet on a TV special recently, so this performance simply couldn't live up to the solo version despite being really good. What did surprise me is that Heaven That I'm Making, a song that I skip every time on the CD, was actually quite enjoyable live.

For me, though, the concert went from simply great to beyond fantastic with track eight, Hole In The River. It was, without a doubt, the best song of the night. I felt a lump rising in my throat; I always find that song very moving, and the extended live version is something else entirely. I wondered if it would be dragged out to twice its original length like on the live bonus disc to the Best Of, and not only did the Crowdies do that, but they did it so well that the performance on the bonus disc now sounds painfully inferior to me! Following it with When You Come was a masterstroke too; it was probably the second or third best song of the night, and the band perform it so powerfully live. Having A Sigh next was a bit disappointing, as it's a bland nothing, only a semi-song, but it did maintain some atmosphere and led well into Silent House.

What surprised me is that Don't Dream It's Over was one of the night's weaker songs. It was excellent and performed impeccably, don't get me wrong; it was just eclipsed by almost everything else, like the scintillating performance of Distant Sun that almost immediately followed. At this point, Neil seemed sick of the Aussie attitude that if there are seats, they should be used and the concert treated like it's a lifeless movie, so he invited us to get on our feet, an invitation I did not refuse! Kate and I were on our feet for the rest of the show.

I always thought Locked Out would be good for opening an encore, and I felt vindicated when the Crowdies busted it out. It really rocks live, though it was quickly outclassed by World Where You Live. Neither, however, could match Fingers Of Love. I've heard a number of live performances of this song, and it has to be one of the Crowdies' best live songs, so as soon as its opening notes began the second encore, I got pretty excited. The idiots who I saw leaving after the first encore missed out on an epic performance of a legendary song (seriously, people, two words: HOUSE LIGHTS! If they aren't on, the gig's not over!). After Fingers Of Love, Neil talked about Paul Hester a little and the last two songs were dedicated to him. Four Seasons In One Day was written at least in part about Melbourne, so I was thrilled to hear it in Melbourne and the Crowdies did a great job of fleshing out its atmosphere live. Last was Better Be Home Soon, which was quite moving, though it couldn't quite live up to the version I heard the Finn Brothers play in 2005, not long after Hester's suicide. It was a touching and beautiful way to end the concert, and I very nearly picked up a ticket for the show the next night (as it is, I think we get the better set).

I desperately wanted to hear my favourite Crowded House song, Recurring Dream, but alas, it wasn't done - and hasn't been played at any of the Kiwi or Aussie gigs for which I've seen setlists. Nonetheless, the song selection was amazing, and I got about four songs that have at other points in time been my favourite Crowdies tracks. As a testament to the quality of the song selection, Better Be Home Soon is the only Crowdies song I've heard live twice, and only a few songs were shared between the Finn Brothers and Split Enz sets. In the three times I've seen Neil Finn live, I think I've heard approximately sixty unique songs. In comparison, I've seen U2 ten times and am well off seeing that many unique songs! Go Neil & Co. for awesome setlist variety.
Tags: augie march, concerts, crowded house, melbourne, music, rod laver arena, setlists, the walls

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