NEIL FINN AND CROWDED HOUSE (2010): The returning son

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Crowded House: Archers Arrows
NEIL FINN AND CROWDED HOUSE (2010): The returning son

Many, many years ago Neil Finn told me he believed bands, and he was referring to Split Enz at the time, had a natural lifespan.

Some years after that – in 2001 when he was well into a solo career with the album One Nil – I asked him the question again, and specifically if he felt that about Crowded House.

His answer was the same. Yes, bands did have a natural lifespan – but then he qualified it.

“We didn't have maybe as long as I would have liked with Crowded House.”

Despite that massive farewell concert on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in November '96, his work with brother Tim and subsequent solo career with Try Whistling This and One Nil, there still seemed unfinished business with Crowded House, a band that was often bigger globally than many New Zealanders realised.

I saw them play to huge and enthusiastic crowds in New York and London, heard their songs (and not just Don't Dream It's Over) on radio in Germany, Japan and in an airport in Korea, and of course all over Australia.

So despite the sad death of Crowdies drummer Paul Hester five years ago, Neil's work with Tim on Everyone Is Here in '04, with Seven Worlds Collide and numerous other projects, the idea of Crowded House remained. People wanted it too. Chris Bourke was still steadily copies of his band biography Something So Strong even when the group had gone.

But then they returned (with original member Nick Seymour, longtime band member Mark Hart and new drummer Matt Sherrod) in 2007 with the Time on Earth album which topped the Australian charts and went to number three here.

Clearly the people missed Crowded House as much as Neil did.intriguer

And now the Crowdies – the same line-up again – are back with Intriguer, an album shot through with Finn's distinctive and memorable melodies, some swirling psychedelic touches, aching ballads and driving rhythms.

Of the album Neil says, “it may just be the best thing we've done . . . til the next one”.

This sounds to me like a band ready to enjoy that rarity in rock, a second lifespan.

Will anyone else note that line in Archer's Arrows: “We live to fight another day”?

CORNERSTONES OF THE HOUSE

Crowded House (1986): The confident post-Enz, hit-packed debut which announced the band as being neither in the shadow of the Enz nor Finn's musical mentors such as the Beatles. A singular gem.

Woodface (1992): The album (with Tim briefly in the ranks) that gave the world Fall At Your Feet, Weather with You, Four Seasons in One Day and the Yank-baiting Chocolate Cake.

Together Alone (1993): Any album with Private Universe, Locked Out, Distant Sun and Nails in My Feet should be in any sensible record collection --- and there were more songs their equal.

Dreaming; The Videos (2002 DVD collection): With 21 video clips, live footage and an interview, this is the perfect companion piece to the CDs and a career summation of “the first Crowed House”.

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