Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Split Enz gig [11th June 2006 @ Rod Laver Arena]

Kiwi legends Split Enz formed in 1972, had a cult following in the 70's, a bit more success in the 80's, and broke up in 1985. Neil Finn (who joined the band at the time of their 1977 album Dizrythmia) and Paul Hester (who played on the last Split Enz album See 'ya round) formed Crowded House with Nick Seymour, and the rest is history. Split Enz have had various re-formations since their "official" breakup (notably for the Enzso album and its inevitable sequel in the late 90's), but this was the first time they had really toured as a unit since their heyday. Although, for a band that has had so many lineup changes over the years, using the word unit is a bit ambiguous.

The particular Enz incarnation who were touring this year were the True Colours lineup from 1980, which was their most commercially successful album: it spawned their biggest hit I got you which gave them a bit of international success. This lineup was made up of Tim Finn (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Neil Finn (guitar, piano, vocals), Noel Crombie (percussion), Malcolm Green (drums), Nigel Griggs (bass) and Eddie Rayner (keyboards).

The gig was at Rod Laver Arena, a huge stadium in Melbourne which is suited more for sporting events than intimate musical gigs. So while the gig definitely lacked intimacy (especially in contrast to the Belle & Sebastian gig the night before), they made up for it by putting on a spectacular show.

Opening with the new-wave hit Shark attack (from True colours), they played an exciting setlist which covered most of their hits, with a few rarities thrown in to satisfy the dedicated fans. The biggest surprise of the night was an epic performance of Jamboree, the closing song from their Dizrythmia. Tim Finn introduced the song as one "written by Phil Judd", who was a core member and songwriter of the earlier Enz lineup before he left after their second album; also prompting the band to abandon a lot of the art-rock sound that Judd brought to the group and opt for a more pop/new wave sound.

One of the gig highlights for me was their performance of Matinee idyll. It started out being a fairly true-to-the-original version, before Tim asked Eddie Rayner poetically "won't you please, play the bridge on the ivories?" and then left the stage. For the next few minutes, Eddie played those ivories like a man possessed, before cult favourite percussionist Noel Crombie took centre stage to play the spoon solo from The woman who loves you, the superb epic closing cut from their 2nd album Second thoughts. It was a truly memorable gig moment, and a real crowd-pleaser.

Other highlights included a great version of Pioneer / Six months in a leaky boat, and a rockier version of early single Bold as brass, preluded by a bizarre skit where a member of the audience was spanked on the bottom with a towel. They closed with a solid performance of their 1981 Corroboree hit History never repeats (one of their signature songs) before bowing to the applause of 12,000 fans who still wanted more. I'm guessing many of the more obsessive fans will be there again on Monday night, where the band will hopefully show that history does indeed repeat*.

A class act all around.


Here's a very poor quality video from the gig. Probably not worth the download ;-)

Split Enz - I Got You [Link Removed]

And here's some choice Split Enz cuts. My Mistake is one of their more popular (early) songs sung by Tim Finn, The Devil You Know is a later-period Neil Finn song (not unlike Crowded House in sound) and The woman who loves you is a very early and experimental Tim Finn song to give you a feel for their artier sound. And it has a kickass spoon solo from Noel Crombie!

Split Enz - My Mistake [Link Removed]
Split Enz - The Devil You Know [Link Removed]
Split Enz - The Woman Who Loves You [Link Removed]

All download links will stay up for a week.

*I'm aware that The Age used a similar "history repeats" pun in the closing line of their recent review. I'd just like to make it clear that this review was in draft status long before I even read that Age review, so I wasn't ripping them off.

UPDATE: Song links removed.

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