“Don’t let them win”, sang Neil Finn, during the big old singalong that is ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’. He implored the throng to hold onto that thought, as it’s an important one right now, and everyone raised their voices a bit louder. And although this was not a political night in any way, this definitely is a thought we do need to hold onto so that the dream doesn’t end as the world enters very interesting times.
Yes, 20 years to the day and the fans have returned to the Sydney Opera House for the encore performance under the sails – albeit a paid affair for just over five thousand punters and not a farewell like 1996 with over 100,000 around the Harbour.
For some this was a chance to have a body memory of that performance two decades ago, and for others it was a chance to see Crowded House live for the first time as the band has been in dry-dock for the last five years.
The gorgeous sunset, the clouds, the coat hanger and the Opera House make for a beautiful setting for the campfire pop and rock of Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod. With the crowd buzzing over the first gig of a four-night stand, there was a great deal of pleasure rising into the night sky over Bennelong Point.
Kicking off with the same song they started with 20 years ago was sweet, and ‘Mean to Me’ had everyone warming up their vocal chords for the lengthy set ahead. Of course, outdoor gigs are not always the best for sound, and it was a bit muddy and low in volume at the start. Although the clarity improved throughout the night, the volume could have been much better, as hearing chatter throughout a rock and roll gig is not a good thing.
This is a minor quibble, as getting to hear songs like ‘Pineapple Head’, ‘Hole in The River’, ‘Fall at Your Feet’ and ‘Distant Sun’ live again made up for those issues. The community of souls in attendance singing along with ‘Weather with You’, ‘Chocolate Cake’ and ‘It’s Only Natural’ when Tim Finn joined the band definitely made for a nostalgic pop performance. The set list was a déjà vu of 20 years ago; not in the same order, but 18 of the 22 numbers played were rolled out in 1996. Definitely a nicely planned group of songs, but the flow and order just didn’t quite conspire to make it a perfect night.
But the throng loves Finn and his cohorts; they love to harmonise and the connection between Neil and Nick, and the crowd has not been dampened through the years. Of course, no Crowded House gig could be complete without a final burst of vocals by all in attendance and, as the night closed on ‘Better Be Home Soon’, the crowd belted it to the skies.