Friday, December 24, 2010

Tim Finn
formerly of Split Enz and Crowded House
The Courthouse Toronto ON

I first saw Tim Finn in the 'new wave' incarnation of Split Enz when they toured North America in the early 80's. The first couple times were here in Toronto, they had Blue Peter opening for them at the Concert Hall (the old Masonic Temple). They announced a special Horseshoe set for the following evening, in celebration of someone's b'day, and I was fortunate enough to be free for that impromptu gig.
The band never really broke, much as 'new wave' never did, until alternative became mainstream and all the songs of our youth started showing up as adverts. The good news part of that is... what's old is new again!

Their best effort by far, was 1980's True Colours, with the great pop tunes, Shark Attack, I See Red and I Got You.

Saw them one more time, in New Jersey in 1981 where they opened for Tom Petty. I left after the opening set, happy to have travelled 500 miles for a 32 minute concert.

Finn went on to be a member of the less frenetic, but more boring, Crowded House.

Last night Tim Finn played a lovely local venue, The Courthouse, and he brought a bit of the old, a bit of the middle and a fair helping of the new, to the plate.

But before that, we had an interesting opening set. Tim Finn had contacted Eileen Rose because she posted herself as a 'friend' on his mySpace page. He checked out a few of her songs, liked what he heard, rang her up and, without the benefit of middlemen, signed her on for a handful of shows.

She was onstage doing her soundcheck when they let us in the venue and she spent some time talking with the audience, setting a nice mood in the very luxurious but cozy venue. There are leather couches all around the side walls, facing in all directions, and not too big a main floor. There are 4 working fireplaces which works to make the ambience more like a large living room than a small concert setting. Most people who weren't on the couches actually SAT on the floor. Not me,I stood up, about 15 feet back in the center. There was trouble with the monitors during a lovely rendition of what might have been called Why Am I Awake While You're Sleeping, it was a sign of difficulties to come.

Just her and her nephew onstage. One acoustic guitar (no extra charge for the feedback issues) and one electric, though the nephew does make his way over to the electric piano for a couple tunes. Her set opens with a bouncy song called, I
believe, Love Don't Forget About Me. She follows with Would You Marry Me?, and it almost like we have theme developing.
Sound problems intervene to spoil the mood. It's mostly onstage where they are having trouble, the mix coming out of the PA seems fine. She performs a song from her soon to be released 2nd album, I'm the Only One, before revisiting her debut release for Nothing But Blue. All the songs sound interesting and she's trying her best to stay focussed while she wrestles with a muddy mix. Very unpretentious stage prescence though as she jokes freely about her trial-by-fire.

Things settle nicely for Tom Waits Crooning and then she tries to close her set with the wonderful Shining. (Do visit her mySpace page to listen to this song, a suitable introduction.) She takes three stabs at playing the song with her lead guitar getting more and more ornery. The third time she just sang, leaving her nephew to provide sparse instrumentation...but even that wasn't to her liking.

At this point she makes a move that saves what could have been an horrific outing. Yanking out the guitar plugs she says she's going to do this acoustic. Both unplug and step onto the floor of the venue to do the song right through, with no amplification, from about 5 feet away. Her persistance and good manner won the crowd over.

Eileen Rose
The Courthouse
Toronto ON
(opening for Tim Finn)
Track 01 Love Don't Forget About Me
Track 02 Would You Marry Me? (?)
Track 03 talk-sound complaints
Track 04 I'm The Only One
Track 05 Nothing But Blue
Track 06 Tom Waits Crooning
Track 07 Shining (3 false starts version due to sound issues)
Track 08 Shining (unplugged, acoustic version from 5 ft away on the floor)


Track 09 Drink Order/Sound Check/Pre-show Chat with Audience
song: Why Am I Awake While You're Sleeping (?)

The crowd at this venue is much older than I'm used to seeing. Which is why they are mostly sitting, I guess. When the heros of your youth take the stage as silver-haired memories of themselves, you know you're getting old as well. On the other hand, just seeing them out here, reaping the benefits of their mispent youth, is life affirming.

Tim addresses this immediately by opening with the oldest song of the night, 1977's My Mistake, from the Splitz Enz catalogue, followed by Couldn't Be Done, from 2006's solo effort, Imaginary Kingdom. Given there's 30 years between the tunes, they share an infectious pop-sensibility that never ages.

He dips into Split Enz's True Colours for the alternative hit, Poor Boy and moves back up to the present for the celestial Astounding Moon. Bit of a see-saw ... or perhaps, saw-see, given the sequence, thing going on here.

Another dip into the Crowded House catalogue for How Will You Go? before we get what I believe is an unrecorded song, a parable called, The Saw and the Tree. Now there's a contentious relationship.

Persuasion, penned in concert with Richard Thompson, gets a rise out of the audience but it's Dirty Creatures that steps it up a notch. Fun to here these songs done with bare accompanionment, stripped and minimalist. He continues, back and forth
through his catalogue, until he closes with a couple more from True Colours, I See Red and Shark Attack...worth the price of admission.

Tim Finn
The Courthouse
Toronto ON

Track 01 Intro
Track 02 Mistake
Track 03 Couldn't Be Done
Track 04 Poor Boy
Track 05 talk
Track 06 Astounding Moon
Track 07 How Will You Go?
Track 08 Saw and the Tree
Track 09 Persuasion
Track 10 Dirty Creatures
Track 11 Salt to the Sea
Track 12 Not Even Close
Track 13 talk
Track 14 Winter Light
Track 15 So Precious
Track 16 It's Only Natural
Track17 Parihaka
Track 18 I See Red
Track 19 Mockery
Track 20 Shark Attack

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