LIVE: Crowded House - Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff 13/06/2022 3

LIVE: Crowded House – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff 13/06/2022

Did I request this show on the off chance a few weeks back, Crowded House, in Cardiff? Yes! I don’t care how middle-aged that makes me sound (I am nudging that way these days anyway). Plus, Neil Finn and his band have an elemental way with a tune, and despite all their mainstream success in the ’80s and ’90s, a time when you couldn’t escape their songs on the radio, the feeling lingers that Crowded House are still somehow a bit, well, underrated. The seats are great, too; that’s not a boast often being on a press list is like roulette. Will you be down? Will you end up in a very awkward discussion with someone at the door? This was easy. Two tickets seated in the fifth row, for a performance by the veteran New Zealand & Australia troupe who can draw vivid musical pictures across blue skies, for a show that had been delayed twice due to the dreaded COVID-19 lockdown.

Finn takes to the stage all in white, grey locks across his face like a character from the film Evan Almighty, his wonderful voice still in full working order, he’s flanked by a kilted Nick Seymour on bass and a Mitchell Froom and his sons Liam and Elroy, but no longer his brother Tim (originally of Spit Enz). Backed by revolving naturalistic visuals they take us on a trawl through the old and new of their catalogue.

Opening with a magnificent rendition of power pop single ‘Distant Sun’. building from twinkling guitars and strums, and meditative verses, flowering into a fantastic Prefab Sprout-like soaring crescendo. Pumping with besotted couplets,  “when your words devour my heart and put me to shame” it’s an underrated song in their canon that clasps you close to its heart. In truth I don’t know many of their recent songs some wash over me, but ‘To The Island’ gently tip toes along with glacial melodies, bounding bass and toe-tapping tunes, the sea-fearing theme replete with tidal wave imagery on a screen behind them.

received 5615430055142942
At one point Neil remarks that his bandmate went to school for a few years in Llantwit Fardre and there are some schoolmates in attendance, it’s followed by one of the high points ‘Fall at Your Feet’,  one of my favourite Crowded House songs,  Finn’s voice dripping in a devotion framed in moody bass and key laden verses that throb with a twilight yearning: obsession, love, and lust, it’s all here. For the wonderful chorus line, he’s joined by an impromptu choir of Welsh voices who miraculously sing in harmony, in a spine-tingling moment. I had a lump in my throat I must admit too, something about this communal moment and how the song hits, its emotional brevity and melodic precision has always got me in the feels.

‘Show Me the Way’ is a more muted affair dipped in Beach Boys-style harmonies, and a rhythm that sways like palm trees in the breeze, a redolent tune characteristic of the deceptively more atmospheric newer material they perform tonight from their most recent album last years Dreamers Are Waiting ‘Private Universe’ meanwhile is another highlight simmering with a heartfelt vocal against a slow-burning atmosphere, there’s a sublime dynamic that harks to psychedelia and elements of The Beatles but still is unmistakably Crowded House.

Four Seasons in One Day from 1991’s classic album Woodface with its daubing keys and entwined harmonies, has an Irish folk tinge to it, the bittersweet melodies house some deceptively blunt lyrics that detour down dark paths, suddenly jolting you out of the high of their hooky melodies (“finding out where there is comfort there is pain”). I expected their classic hit ‘Weather With You’ to be part of the encore, but it crops up earlier in the set to the delight of everyone in situ, with most taking to their feet and dancing along to this unmistakable riff and its life affirming singalong chorus.

received 4910491192394832
‘In the paper today/Tales of war and of waste’ sings Finn plaintively on ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ with keening resonance, over a chiming guitar, given the war in Ukraine, distress and inequality we see reported on our screens every day, this song is still as pertinent as it was when it was released in 1986. Its chorus is daubed in a memorable organ solo, it’s an indelible earworm an anthem of defiance and resilience.

Tonight is proof that Crowded House have a substantial cannon, and proof that melodies are enduring, emotions are timeless, and songwriting is a craft that can mature like fine chocolate cake or wine, in time. Call me middle-aged if you like for liking them, I don’t care. This is music that stands the test of time and is warmly received into our hearts in Cardiff’s capital tonight, it’s an evening many of us will never forget.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.