It was great news to wake up to - Neil Finn will tour New Zealand in September of this year. Not only is it very quiet on the touring front at the moment (well, it's winter...) but it's the first time Neil Finn has toured NZ in quite a while, the first time too since the release of the very strong (return to form) album, Dizzy Heights. So these shows will be well worth seeing.
But even if Dizzy Heights wasn't a good album - or even if it didn't exist - you'd still have a great time at a Neil Finn show. He's the consummate showman - always a great band, impeccable set-list, often with a surprise or two thrown in, sometimes he pulls out a surprise guest or two. For this tour Bic Runga is supporting, she hasn't played shows around the country since 2011.
I've seen Neil Finn perform in a few different contexts - in a few different cities too. I've seen him heading Crowded House and Split Enz reunions, I've caught him a few times with brother Tim, sometimes billed as The Finn Brothers, or Finn, and there's been a bunch of Neil Finn shows, though not many in New Zealand in recent years.
You go to a Neil Finn show and you get to see what an extraordinarily good guitar player he is - he'll hit out Suffer Never or some such. And you'll be genuinely amazed, even if you've followed his career. You'll hear him rework something like Message To My Girl, a song from so many years ago, recast as simple, tender piano ballad. You'll wonder all night about whether you might get to hear I Got You - and you will. And it will kill. Every time. You'll also get to hear Private Universe, potentially. And that'll transport you, take you away on its journey. You'll get to hear Sinner, most likely. What a strange and wonderful tune that is.
You might, if you're lucky, get to hear the likes of Fall At Your Feet, and remind yourself of the exquisite charm of Neil's writing, where even throwaway pop lyrics can be shaped into something magical due to his deft skill with a melodic line, his way of creating instantly hummable choruses.
There'll be banter. Funny, sometimes awkward - memorable, often brilliant.
You'll be watching a guy who has lived a big part of his life on the stage since he was a teenager, someone who has learned so much, including what they no longer teach. And, more importantly, what they never could teach.
And you'll return home after the show, basking in the glow of all that you just heard, and you'll realise then, or the next day certainly, that for the chance to hear it all again you would fall at his feet. But also there's the realisation that he could do it all over again, never repeat a single song from whatever list gets served up on the night you're there and it would still be one of the best live shows you might ever get to see. That's up there with The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Neil Young - there's just a few that can offer more than one set chock full of hits; actual hits. And this time you'll get all that and a small handful of the very best songs he's written in over a decade.
Five shows around New Zealand in September - a must-see tour. See here for the details.
So are you excited at the news of Neil Finn's first New Zealand tour in a while?
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