Monday, 9 August 2010

Tim Finn Live at Scala, London - 8 August 2010

This is probably unwise to do in the wee hours of the morn with no sleep, but I'm back from a remarkable Tim Finn gig at London's Scala in King's Cross, which I very nearly didn't go to, an insane near-tragedy. I will post my formal review with photographs to my AboutLastNight site [actually, I've now done so; see the Tim Finn page], but I meanwhile sent out an email with the setlist and some general comments that sprang to mind as I was typing that out. I've decided to go ahead and paste that in here, for those of you who have an interest in what was played. I'll write it up more coherently when I get a chance this week. For now, here goes:-

...I’m thankfully home safely after a last-ish minute decision to see Tim Finn despite Sunday travel being impossible and my elderly crippled back refusing to attend all-standing venues. But a message reminded me that I was insane not to go, and my trains were unusually running on a Sunday (ish), and I have strong painkillers. While other people liked Donny Osmond or David Cassidy in their teens, Tim Finn was the person I had a huge crush on and whose music I adored, and always have adored. I still fully admire and enjoy his talent, and how could I miss this chance? Even after I struggled into town and arrived not long before Tim took the stage, I still might have missed out as my ticket wasn’t waiting at the box office, so I had to buy another (thank goodness it wasn’t sold out). It was surprisingly uncrowded actually, but I know of other people who would have come were it not a Sunday, people who have worse journeys and earlier starts on Mondays than I do, so that’s a shame, although Tim said he loved doing Sunday gigs. It was certainly superb and I thank goodness I didn’t miss it; that would have been tragic.

I’ll write it all up formally for my long neglected website as I have some time off later this week, and will post a few blurry photos (lots of this will be on YouTube as peeps were filming on their cameras). But for now, I wanted to provide the setlist:-

1. Straw to Gold [I was too excited with Tim & band bursting on the scene to remember much about this]

2. Won’t Give In [wonderful, uplifting song always, and very catchy]

3. My Mistake [so exciting to relive the joy of hearing this very old Split Enz song (1977!)…I think I bought it on my first ever trip to London about 30 years ago. Gosh, I’m old. The tune wasn’t that recognisable at first.]

4. Chocolate Cake (this always works better live than it did on record. He updated the words from Tammy Bakker to ‘Barack Obama has a lot on his plate’]

5. Invisible [lovely poignant sad song surely about his mother, lyrics: ‘This is the end of knowing her, you’re going through her things…but you can’t find her there’….’All the ties that bind us are invisible’. This sort of song means a lot to those of us who are also struggling with the loss of a close loved one like a parent]

6. Luckiest Man Alive [from sad poignancy over loss of loved one, to the joy of a birth of a loved one, as he said he wrote this when his daughter was born, for the woman who made it all possible. He still sings it so jubilantly and speaks of his wife with such pure love, I am thrilled that he has truly found The One, as so few people do. He puts it into such simple but perfectly arranged words here to convey that.]

7. Dead Man [a bit of a rock-out chorus. He said he wrote the song after the Split Enz reunion show in 2000 in Auckland—the last performance that his mother saw, and a song was played on the PA/tannoi system called April Sun in Cuba by an Antipodean band called Dragon, and he’d just been listening to music by their singer Mark Hunter who had died not long before that….and a lot of things came together. At the end, he sang what I take to be some of April Sun in Cuba..., and the Kiwis cheered]

8. Persuasion [went straight into that after the last one. Breathtaking.]

9. Dirty Creature [the bass was so different, the song was unrecognisable at first, but it was fine, although Tim stopped after a few lines and chastised the bassist for doing it wrong, but then blamed himself and his jet lag when he realised how harsh it was to single out one player and make him re-do everything like he was the dunce in a classroom. Though he still said it wasn’t right then and so Tim started the song off on Take 3, and it all fell into place. But then he made it up to the bassist later in the song by letting him go wild with a remarkable bass solo that would make Mark King faint with envy. The guitarist got to add his own solo later but thankfully kept it sensible, not like an 80s 20 minute thing where we all would nod off but for the noise. They and the drummer were really impressively outstanding talents.]

10. Charley [always awesome. Started this one again, too; this time the guitarist was blamed as I think he missed his cue. In order to demonstrate that he wasn’t being as harsh and demanding as it might seem, Tim reminded Brett that Tim had f**ked up earlier as well when he was out of tune, and he turned to us to say ‘put that up on YouTube and be damned!’ with a smile]

11. Couldn’t be Done [‘a can do song’]

12. It’s Only Natural [he hushed the band to let us sing this from the beginning, though he thankfully joined in, too, shortly afterward; we weren’t that good. This song always lifts my spirits.]

13. So Deep [After threatening they’d take their shirts off, and discussing why they shouldn’t practically in a Three Bears style—eg ‘I’m too hairy’, ‘I’m too flabby’, ‘I’m just right’--and toasting his father Richard Finn who is 88. Neat to hear something from Big Canoe; wonder what made him choose this over the others. Done to a slower tempo, obviously toned down backing vocals without a choir of loud women, a bit more sensuous—but maybe I shouldn’t use that word when describing a song with this title lest someone think it’s pornographic! Quite atmospheric. Nice to hear the line ‘eating chicken curry with English tea’ now that it makes more sense to me as a Londoner; I was in the States when my father brought me this album from NZ.]
14. Stuff and Nonsense [my second favourite song by anyone of all time; couldn’t believe he played it. Used to think I’d like it played at my wedding, which may be why I’m happily single. Obviously reworked for guitars vs piano, a bit too upbeat perhaps for those of us who worship the original, but I was just thrilled to hear it, and it probably needed updating to travel well, though nothing ever needs slide guitar added. This tune started after a long discussion of accents and cities where people wanted him to play; he said if we bought 1,000 copies each of his album, he could do a national tour; someone pointed out that releasing the album would help, and he said it might be out in May or June next year]

15. Six Months in a Leaky Boat [All singing—badly again--with Tim working hard on the whistling bit, even restarting that as he said he was out of key, jokingly pointing at someone’s camera and saying ‘put that on YouTube and be damned! At the end, he wore a tongue in cheek delightful ‘aced it!’ expression fitting of Spinal Tap. No Pioneer-ish bit of ‘Da da da da’ etc bit at the end, stopped like a rock song]

Encore One (off stage for perhaps 20 seconds—great not to keep us waiting)
16. I Hope I Never [My number one super top favourite song ever of all time. Whenever MTV showed that video , I melted. This was what it was all about for me, and it makes me melt every time I hear it, which is rarely live. Again, a slightly different version given the lack of keyboards, but still lovely, still gentle and slow, and Tim’s voice was incredible, spot on. Moving stuff]

17. Forever Thursday [prefaced by a tale of meeting his wife—on a Thursday--who loved the song Tin Soldier, and he kept the lyrics in his back pocket…or something like that. He was surprised when we didn’t laugh but I think we were a bit lost and enjoyed the tale, but didn’t see anything ha-ha about it…..just sweet.]

18. I Got You [I’ve never heard Tim sing this song other than as part of the painting on the wall in the video….I wouldn’t say it shows that the Finns are exactly interchangeable, but it worked great. I thought he might have switched a couple lines at the end but I probably imagined it.]

Encore Two (this time they were off stage for a whole 4 mins)
19. Unsinkable [after a long story about how Harper loved the book Titanic so much that he took Harper to the 3D version of the film The Deep (actually it was Ghosts of the Abyss) about raising it—and Tim had a panic attack when he put the 3D glasses on; maybe he has labyrinthitis or something—and Harper said on the way home that he wished they could all go down together ie when the time comes so no one is left sad behind, which moved Tim to write this song. The song didn’t grab us as much as all the others, and went on a bit long with sound effects, but it’s amongst tough company, and the audience was still happy]

20. Shark Attack [a sort of calmer version that picked up, but even now Tim didn’t race about the stage like a man possessed. It’s not just that the boy’s grown up; he’s now a refined gentleman!]

21. History Never Repeats [another Neil Finn Split Enz track. Intriguing that he chose two of them, but they both worked well and I suppose it makes a change for him. The loveable guitar riff was altered to something a bit heavier, more fuzz, not so good—but the rest was wonderful]

He played from just after 9pm to 10.50pm, an impressive set. And stopping even a few mins later would have meant that many of us would have had to choose between leaving early or being stranded, so that was welcome. Tim was in fine voice and I love his choice of songs. (I’ve only just realised there was no Weather With You. I’ve often thought they should skip that for something wonderful like Stuff and Nonsense or Time for a Change and, whilst it’s a terrific song, I’ve never gone as gaga for it as the rest of the audience usually do.) He wasn’t that chatty at the beginning and then got into it a bit more, even stopping his band from moving on to the next song once, saying ‘repartee!’ to remind them that he needed to add some. And whilst he couldn’t help but do some of these scary eyes and histrionic hand gestures during Dirty Creature, he mainly stuck to strumming his acoustic guitar and walking in tight circles during instrumentals—no push ups, no mad dancing. Still delightful; it would have been destructive on that small, equipment filled stage to rush about, and just stomping knocked over his water behind him, which sent a roadie rushing out to remove it before any of our beloved musicians were electrocuted, and it gave Tim an excuse to have some whiskey brought out.

I think the young and enormously sharp band were Brett Adams on guitar (looks a bit like Eddie Vedder), the fantastic Tony Buchen on bass/harmonica ( I never found bass or harmonica so exciting before, and the rest of the time he spent smiling and loving where he was and what he was doing), and Carlos Adura on drums, who seemed to have something more like mini-kettle drums than snares built into his kit, and he often seemed to be playing the air, til I realised that he had shakers attached to his drum sticks and sometimes shook them without hitting the drums. ) I also might throw in here the random comment that is most unlike me and of which I will later be ashamed that Tim really is a slick silver fox now. I don’t mean I was standing there drooling over him, but really, he beats Ralph Lauren and looks just as moneyed and tailored, with a sharp grey suit and snazzy haircut (still on the longish side but not quite so mad—just lovely). It added to the whole experience that this was a quality show.

Even if you worry that you won’t be able to get home afterwards or if your back is in agony and you can’t stand for long, go see Tim if you get the chance. I did it (and there was an older woman with a cane at the front!) and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. We all left ecstatically happy.