Neil Finn: A crowded house expected for Largo solo shows
Crowded House wraps its two-month North American tour with a final stop tonight in Denver. But lead singer and songwriter Neil Finn won’t let any dust settle after the performance: He’s heading back to Los Angeles, which he calls “an old home away from home,” for a pair of solo concerts this weekend at Largo at the Coronet.
“Having done three or four months of Crowded House shows,” he told me Thursday, “it sounds very appealing to dip into my other repertoire. I haven’t done as much of that as I’d like to do. There’s a freedom, and an intensity, playing solo that I really enjoy, and I’d like to do more.”
While fans should rightly expect generous samplings from his three solo albums and perhaps a song or two from either of the two Finn Brothers albums he recorded with big brother Tim, Neil said he’s not by any means closing the door on the Crowded House songbook.
“The great thing about it is because it’s just me, I can go anywhere, so there probably will be a few Crowded House songs,” he said. “They’re fresh enough from having done them on tour, and doing them as solo things is also quite appealing.”
Because Finn has carved out a reputation as a a songwriter’s songwriter, one who has crafted some of the catchiest pop-rock songs of the last quarter-century, I couldn’t resist asking how he responds to some of the popular and critical reaction to Crowded House’s latest album, “Intriguer.” One writer, I mentioned to him, suggested, “It seems that Neil is no longer interested in writing anthems like [the group’s 1987 breakthrough hit] ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over.’ ”
“That assumes I was ever interested in writing anthems,” he said with a chuckle. “I never really thought about it like that. It turned out that that one in particular, and a few others, took on another life because they became hits. I never knew when I wrote it that I was writing an anthem. I just knew I liked the song, and that I was very happy with it.
“It’s a very interesting point,” he added. “But I know that for the first six months after the first Crowded House album came out, there weren’t many people saying, ‘This is just an album full of anthems.’ In a parallel universe, there are songs on this [‘Intriguer’] album that I think could be anthems if they were on the radio all of a sudden. But it’s a different scenario now; it’s certainly not something I pick and choose.”
After the L.A. shows Saturday and Sunday, both sold out according to Largo's website, the New Zealand native will take a bit of a break in Hawaii before Crowded House’s tour continues into the fall with shows in England, South Africa and Australia.
“We’ve had a grand time all around,” he said. “When you do a lot of gigs back to back, you get better in a way that doesn’t happen just in rehearsal….
“The set’s different every night,” he said. “People are having to get more inventive about sowing the seeds for obscurities. Last night, one guy brought up a scroll with the entire lyrics of a song off the first album that we’d never done live: ‘Tombstone.’ We actually did it because he was so kind to write out all the words. Nick held them up so I could read them.
“There’ve been a lot of good twists and turns like that,” he said. “We’re just really enjoying each other’s company, and really enjoying the gigs.”
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Neil Finn. Credit: Tony Nyberg