Friday, November 17, 2017

Eddie Rayner's ENZO: The Songs Of Split Enz

It's been over 20 years since those first ENZSO shows where the songs of Split Enz were played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Rayner returned tonight to Melbourne's Hamer Hall with ENZO: The Songs of Split Enz. This time there was a smaller 14-piece band including strings and brass, with Eddie on keyboards and piano, Michael Barker (ex-Split Enz and John Butler Trio) on drums and Brett Adams (longtime Tim Finn collaborator) on electric guitar. Performing each of the songs were guest vocalists Rima Te Wiata (Hunt For The Wilderpeople), Rikki Morris and Phil Madsen.

Eddie came out for the first half of the show in his Noel and Sally Crombie designed white suit. He started the evening with the instrumental track "Albert of India." Each of the vocalists took turns singing songs from across the back catalogue of Split Enz, ranging from the later Neil Finn tracks "The Devil You Know" and "I Walk Away" to the more theatrical early Enz songs such as "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Time For A Change."

After the intermission, Eddie emerged in his black House of Crombie suit. They kicked off with "Matinee Iydll (129)" and "Stuff and Nonsense," which Eddie said was buried on the Frenzy album because radio didn't play ballads in the 1970s. Rima Te Wiata added a lot of theatricality to her performances throughout the night. It was Phil Madsen though, who was my favorite vocalist due to his amazing voice and phenomenal versions of "I Hope I Never" and "Edible Flowers," which came out of the last Enz jam sessions in 1999 and was subsequently released on the Finn Brothers album Everyone Is Here. Some of the other highlights for me were hearing "Voices," "Give It A Whirl" and "Strait Old Line," complete with a fantastic spoon solo by Michael Barker.

For the encore all three vocalists performed the songs together. They began with the instrumental "Pioneer" which segued into "Six Months In A Leaky Boat," and then finished the evening with "My Mistake." Overall it was good to hear some different interpretations of Split Enz songs, although I did miss having the Finns singing them as it bordered on karaoke at some points throughout the night.

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