LIVE REVIEW: Crowded House in Boston, MA (05.30.23)

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LIVE REVIEW: Crowded House in Boston, MA (05.30.23)

An enthusiastic audience welcomed Crowded House at a nearly sold-out Wang Theatre in Boston, Mass. on May 30 for the last date of the band’s North American tour in support of their 2021 album, Dreamers Are Waiting. The band played a glorious two hour show of heartfelt indie rock. “We’re glad you waited for us,” singer/guitarist Neil Finn said.

The tour had been postponed due to Covid and then drummer Elroy Finn’s back injury. Crowded House is truly a Finn family affair with sons Elroy on drums and Liam on guitar. Liam was also the warm-up act. The band also includes keyboardist Mitchell Froom, a renowned American music producer. Wearing a kilt, bassist Nick Seymour seemed to be truly enjoying the evening, titanium knee (which Neil pointed out when they lamented aging) and all.

Finn remarked that the Wang Theatre was “the most beautiful theater of the whole tour.” He likely said that at every venue. An appreciative crowd cheered, danced and sang along for much of the night. Crowded House opened with the gentle, pensive “When You Come” and the gorgeous, touching “Distant Sun.” For the first half hour or so, I found myself a bit lulled and kept wondering if they would play the satirical “Chocolate Cake.” They didn’t. Maybe Americans are too sensitive for a song about American overindulgence.

Finn led the audience in a sing along to “World Where You Live” and noted that Boston radio station WBCN had been the first station to play the song. I’m honestly surprised it wasn’t WFNX. They played several yet to be released songs including the yearning, jangly “Life’s Imitation.” As the rest of the band took a break, Neil remained onstage for a piano solo on the Split Enz song “Message to My Girl.” By the time they played “Pineapple Head” a third of the way through the momentum picked up and built to a crescendo. Several audience members stood up and danced along while displaying paper pineapples and hearts. Finn remarked that there was “a bit of musical theatre” going on. The jazzy, upbeat “Systematic” had some people up and dancing. The final third of the set had the audience on their feet and singing along to anthemic tunes such as the wistful “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” which made it to number two on the Billboard chart in the U.S., and the romantic “Something So Strong.”

Back in 1986, when Crowded House debuted with their self-titled album, I was a junior in high school. This show was a whole punch bowl of nostalgia with some newer songs sprinkled in. Amazingly, all the words come right back even after more than 35 years. After the band, Split Enz (which Neil’s older brother Tim Finn founded) broke up, Neil Finn formed Crowded House with Split Enz drummer Paul Hester and bassist Nick Seymour. Crowded House has released seven studio albums. The first three–Crowded House (1986), Temple of Low Men (1988) and Woodface (1991) have garnered the most singles. Crowded House, The Church and Midnight Oil were all popular 80s Australasian indie rock bands that toured this year. They were all more popular in Australasia than here in the states but did all have breakthrough hit songs. Some of us were faithfully watching MTV’s 120 Minutes and listening to alternative radio station WFNX.

During the band’s notable encore, they played the grooving and catchy Split Enz 80s hit “I Got You” which melded into a punchy “Locked Out” from their 1993 album Together Alone. They followed that with the slow, subdued “Goodnight Everyone.” A very fitting and lovely “Better Be Home Soon” closed out the night and a jubilant Crowded House left the stage to a standing ovation.

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