My friend Dan and I took a 'spur of the moment' drive to Detroit (about 3.5 hours from Columbus) to see Neil play at St. Andrew's Hall last night.
He was fantastic.
When I envisioned his show, I somewhat expected a 10 piece band with back-up singers galore, percussionists, keyboardists, etc... I was thinking, "he'll be the old, removed, band-leader, strumming an acoustic and letting everyone else do the work."
That was hardly the case. He came out with a working man's four piece in tow, alternating a bright sounding Les Paul, a big old Gretsch with a Bixby and a couple old acoustics, and rocked his 'arse' off. His voice has always been perfect. But it was amazing to see him play all of those weird leads (that I always assumed were being played by some hired gun) while he sang. He was amazing.
He opened with two of my faves from his two solo records (Last Man Standing & Driving Me Mad). He played 5 or 6 Crowded House tracks, opting for fan favorites rather than the mega hits. He was also very improvisational and interactive with the crowd, writing a few songs on the spot for ardent fans who kept sending him on-stage messages via paper airplane. What an endearing, beautiful performer. He also gave into the pressure a few times and led a few crowd sing-alongs, i.e. singing a few lines from the Split Enz hit 'I see Red' and letting the crowd finish it.
Dan made a few great points: one being that he uses very universal lyrics, but in a very clever and accurate way. It is far from cheesy. He also builds the ENTIRE song around the melody. Sometimes the accompanying music is simple, sometimes it is very complex, but the melodies are always memorable.
And he NEVER oversings.
Jesus, we were taken to songwriting school and we didn't even know it.
The soundman was a crackhead and had trouble balancing the very basic set-up. Thankfully, the musicianship was so great that it didn't matter.
Unfortunately, he only plays 7 or 8 US dates every 2-3 years. So if you missed him, you're effed. Unless you wanna drive to Chicago tonight.
Lemme know, I might come with you.