Crowded House may have just released comeback album, but they are yet to gather real momentum as a live prospect. Their promising show at the Hyde Park Calling festival was unfortunately curtailed by a rather inconvenient monsoon, and a week after that they played the opening of the Indigo Club in the 02 Arena. The band played a blinder one what was a singularly soulless occasion.
This show, for competition winners only, saw them nail it. The ICA is a very small venue with good sound, and allowed Neil and the boys to achieve the connection with their adoring fans on a small scale, just like the good old days. One wonders the logic behind scheduling a stadium tour for the UK later in the year, when this fabulous bunch are best suited to venues of this size.
The humble surroundings allowed the band to lark around again just like the good old days. Multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart was sung an impromptu Happy Birthday, while not only did the band attempt a crazed version of Sister Madly as fast as their hands could take them, but they also launched into Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name, believe it or not.
In previous shows they’d mixed the best tracks from Time On Earth with old classics. Of new material, Silent House is quite stunning. Written with the Dixie Chicks, Finn has crafted another majestic happy-sad three minutes of genius. New single Don’t Stop Now sounds like a substandard outtake from Together Alone, while English Trees and Transit Lounge are worthy additions to his legacy.
These have all been regulars at recent shows, but it was the gems from the Crowded House back catalogue that made the night. We did not expect Sister Madly fused with Hunters and Collector’s Throw Your Arms Around Me, nor a few verses of the epic Walking On The Spot, or Something So Strong or the unreleased Recurring Dream. Extraordinary.
The equally underused in a live setting Black and White Boy closed a set that also included a note perfect Don’t Dream Its Over, and mercifully, no Weather With You. Because it was competition winners only, a good proportion of the crowd were a bit clueless as to the previous career of this most powerful of bands, some even unaware of Paul Hester, which was sad. Without him Crowded House 2007 lack the same charm they once had on stage, but given time they’ll likely improve.