It was a strange and wonderful night on Friday, as we headed out to Pomona to see Crowded House for the first time. Yes, I know what you're saying: You've never seen them before Bruce?!?! Well, I was busy seeing girl groups in the 80's and 90's and well... I have no good excuse. Probably the most amazing part of the evening for me was the group of people I found myself with in line. I stood and listened around me as everyone recounted their Crowded House experiences. I was tempted to jump in when they switched to Neil solo and Finn Brother's shows, but I was way over my head here. Finally the conversation turned to locations and comparisons and I jumped in. There were 4 groups of us talking and the musical styles started bouncing all over the place. It was way beyond anything I would have expected from a Crowded House crowd. "Did you see Peter Gabriel at the Roxy? So did I! I saw Gentle Giant tape a show for In Concert. Have you heard of The Section Quartet? I love Largo. It went on and on. Concerts that we all had been to at the same time. Very weird... and wonderful.
So after a couple of hours in the sun talking music and watching Neil and band walk by a few times, they let us in to wait another hour. But right at 8 the show got started with Neil's son, Liam performing a solo show. With just an electric guitar and drum kit, Liam put on an interesting show. Most of the songs required him to use tape loops (I call them that, 'cause I go back to the days of RobertFripp really using tape to make the loops). Like Howie Day and Julian Coryell and countless others these days, Liam layered guitar rhythms on top of each other then either sang over it or hammered out some energetic drumming. The problem with loops is that you have to be very very good to pull this off. In the second song, he made a slight mistake in one of the chords and that mistake kept coming back around throughout the rest of the song. Turning the loops on and off can be problematic too. Although it was fun watching him turn them on and off while drumming, sometimes the drop off of the loops was so sudden it took away from the songs. One of my favorite parts though was when he added to the loops a portabletheremin (think "Good Vibrations") and played with it like Hendrix used to play with feedback. It was very cool. As you listen to Liam's songs, you know that you are listening to a Finn. He should develop into a fine songwriter. It was a very enjoyable opening act.
We were in good position in line, but not good enough to hang on the stage, so we ended up leaning on the gate that surrounded the sound board; which was right next to the stage. It turned out to be a great spot, because they had put a speaker on the floor right next to us with the full mix so we had no problem hearing the vocals or banter between members of the band. And banter they did. Neil and Nick seemed the most talkative, with Nick always seeming to want to turn a comment into a song. But when they started talking about secrets and Neil decided to sing a line from the Beatles, "Do You Want to Know a Secret", well, I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the audience to yell, "Keep Going". And he did, with lots of help from the audience. It was a magical moment. The crowd seemed to besoooo on key. It was beautiful.
The first half of the show was made up of new songs and songs I'd call tier 2 songs; not their big potent songs, but songs that most songwriters wish they had written. That seemed to dull the crowd spirit a bit and made for a slow beginning. But after about 45 minutes they kicked into gear, singing "Private Universe", "World Where you Live" and "Don't Dream It's Over". After that, there was no letting up. They finished off with "When you Come" and off the stage they went.
There were two encores with the highlight being the creation of a new song based on the first song Mark ever played on the piano (it was a joke question from Neil that turned into an extended jam with Neil even creating lyrics on the spot). They finished up with "Something So Strong" and "Better Be Home", and then it was over; two and a quarter hours after it started. It truly was a magical evening, filled with laughter and beautiful melodies and lots of crowd sing-a-longs.
Now you know I'm getting old and don't have the best memory. As soon as the last song played I leaned into the sound area and begged the Aussie, who I earlier had chatted up a bit, to give me his set list... and he did. So here it is, straight from the horses mouth. I've decided to just write what was written. You'll have to figure out the actual song titles:
Don't Stop Now
Walked Her Way Down
Fingers of Love
Black and White Boy
Nobody Wants To
People Are Like Suns
She Called Out
When You Come
Fall At Your Feet
Something So Strong
Better Be Home