Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Return of Split Enz

On June 11th and 12th I attended the Split Enz concerts at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. This short reunion tour around Australia was inspired by their induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame last year. I last saw the Enz in Auckland at the Millennium shows as we welcomed in the year 2000. I never thought I'd get the chance to see them perform live again, so I took advantage of having them play two shows in town and bought tickets for both (and they weren't cheap). The band for this tour was the "True Colours" album line-up of Neil Finn, Tim Finn, Eddie Rayner, Noel Crombie, Nigel Griggs, and Malcolm Green.

The first night I was on the floor in the center section, row G. The seats were amazing, and it was lots of fun to be with Fran, Sonia, and Lara. The band has been playing pretty much the same set list at each show, which was as follows:
Shark Attack
Poor Boy
One Step Ahead
Give It A Whirl
Nobody Takes Me Seriously
Double Happy
I Hope I Never
Message to My Girl
Dirty Creature
Stuff & Nonsense
Devil You Know
129 (Matinee Idyll)
Strait Old Line
Pioneer/Six Months in a Leaky Boat
I Got You
What's the Matter with You
I See Red

Encore 1
Talk a Walk
My Mistake

Encore 2
Bold as Brass
History Never Repeats

All of us girls were up and standing for the start of "Shark Attack." Unfortunately, the majority of the crowd didn't seem to understand the concept of a rock concert, and remained seated for two-thirds of the show (It was even worse on the second night where some people sat for the whole thing). You could tell which side of the arena bought tickets from the pre-sale because they were the ones standing and dancing throughout the night. I was right at the boarder of those pre-sale seats. At least the band could see us enjoying the show, since everyone else in front of us was sitting. We compromised for those behind us and sat down for the slower songs, but got up and danced for the faster numbers. Thankfully, once they played "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" the entire audience on the floor stood up and stayed that way for the rest of the night. It made the show that much better.

I was really impressed that they did "Jamboree" and segued into the intrumental "Double Happy." I always love hearing the 70s songs. Neil did "Devil You Know" acoustic on guitar and was sounding a bit horse towards the end of it. "Message to My Girl" got a funny intro as Neil talked about walking past his old house in South Yarra (he said they brought tissues along "just in case"). Tim gave a shout out to Caulfield and his "Hasidic Brothers" and then Neil started calling it "Cornfield" for some reason. The other funny/bizarre moment of the night was Eddie and his towel flicking of a female audience member. When Tim called out "Who would like their buttocks flicked by Eddie?" I guess some people just couldn't resist.

The sound of the shows was excellent, and it's easy to forget what great musicians they all are still. Eddie is just a genius on the keyboards, and Nigel plays such strong bass lines. Crombie was his usual self and besides the infamous spoon solo he has added electric guitar to his musical repertoire. They ended the first encore by dragging "Hendrix Crombie" away from the guitar and off the stage. Mal Green traded off with Noel on the drum kits (they have two set up) and percussion. The costumes and backdrops were great and full of typical Enz flare. I think Noel likes texture in his backdrops as they were similar styles to the sheep clouds of the Millennium shows.

For the second show I was on my own- this time in the center section, row D. It was pretty much the same set list as the previous night except for a couple glorious additions. Phil Judd (founding member) seemed to be on Neil's mind because he threw in both "Sweet Dreams" and "Titus." It was fantastic! Tim paid tribute to Phil and said (to paraphrase) that despite their very dysfunctional relationship, they created some great songs together and that the boys will continue to sing them until they're dead.

The other highlight of the night was the frisbee battle between Neil and Eddie. They each had three frisbees to throw across the arena and see who could get them the farthest. Eddie went first, because Neil said "Age before beauty." Each toss got further and further back into the crowd, with both of them eventually sailing their frisbees across the entire floor section to the back of the arena. I think Neil ended up winning by getting his frisbee a few rows further up than Eddie. It was very entertaining.

I had such a great time both nights. Peter let me hang around with him backstage on the second night while he was working. I got a brief glimpse of the band before they changed into their costumes but didn't get to chat with them. I even had a pass to the after show party, but because of public transport issues, I had to leave so that I could get home. I didn't want to get stuck in the city with all those crazy Socceroo fans when I had work the next morning.

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