Tuesday, February 15, 2005

news travels fast

I'm gonna do this, dammit. I'm gonna stay up-to-date with my posts, even if no one's reading.

Finn Brothers, Palace of Fine Arts, February 14, 2005: Tonight was the Finn Brothers show at the Palace of Fine Arts. I'm gonna skip the ordeal I went through to get there. For almost anyone else, I might have just gone home. Then again, for almost anyone else, I wouldn't have bothered picking up tix in the first place. But it was Neil Finn, one of the few childhood idols I still care for and who has never disappointed me. There was no debate on this one.

The show itself sold out in an amazingly short time, especially considering that they couldn't sell out the Warfield last time they were in town, last July. Then again, that was either before or just as the album saw its official release--the wheels had not been greased just yet. Maybe it was all those nostalgic couples who've reserved a special place in their memories for "Don't Dream It's Over" and wanted to cement the reputation of that song with a Valentine's Day show. Regardless, the tix were hot properties on craigslist, and I was glad to see the brothers getting some recognition.

I got in just as they were in the middle of the first song, "Weather with You," and found my seat. The Palace of Fine Arts is fairly intimate, so my place in Row K wasn't bad at all. As promised, this was a more stripped-down tour. Neil and Tim had only Tim Smith in their backup band (the brothers from the last round were gone), and Tim had his percussive setup of a couple of drums right in front of him. The brothers seemed to have only a couple of guitars each, but a baby grand piano sat to the side of their space. The three of them took up maybe one-third of the stage.

Apparently, Neil was quite sick and nursed all sorts of homeopathic elixirs. A couple of times, he left the stage completely. He sounded great, but his energy could've been a little higher. Perhaps the oddest thing occurred during a lovely version of "Throw Your Arms Around Me," when the PA went out. The performers couldn't tell, as they were getting all their sound from the monitors, but a few of us giggled bemusedly. At the end of the song, they were informed of the problem and took to their feet, with Neil trying to get us to sing, while Tim broke out in a small Shakespearean soliloquy. Somewhere in there is a lesson on how they differ from each other.

I'm hopelessly biased, and I did enjoy the show, though it was a different vibe from all the other shows I've seen, where I'm on my feet and cheering at the front. But they have a good rapport. In the past, I've definitely seen shows where it seems like they can't find a common conversation to save their lives, but the jibes and the compliments went both ways. Tim Smith was really cool, and he's obviously found a niche as part of the team. I hate to say this, but "Don't Dream It's Over" was, for lack of a better word, dreamy, with a slightly new arrangement. Over the years, Neil has stripped down the song more and more, and he usually gives it the solo guitar treatment, though he introduced some keyboards on the last tour. Tonight, he built it up a little more. I just think it still sounds so beautiful, and if it guarantees that Neil will always enjoy some royalties for the rest of his life, the more power to him. They didn't do a lot of songs from the new album, but once again, "Edible Flowers" turned out to be one of my favorite tracks. Perhaps that's not so surprising, however, given my penchant for those soaring Neil bridges.

One small confession: Throughout most of the night, I kept thinking back to just a few weeks ago, when we were singing "I Got You" and "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" to Jeff Tweedy's guitar accompaniment. ;) I wanted so badly to tell Neil about it, but given his health, I didn't want to make undue demands of him.

I didn't bring a camera tonight, and it's probably for the better, as I was too far to get a decent shot. I hope the people in the front managed some pics, though, because the lighting was beautiful. And I can't even remember how many times I've seen Neil Finn, in all his incarnations, at this point, but I don't expect this habit to die anytime soon.

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