The last time I saw Crowded House live was also the first time I ever saw them live, at Rod Laver Arena during their Live On Earth Tour back in 2007. I realise this was 15 years ago.
So, after being frustrated with myself for missing their summer concert in Melbourne back in April this year, Crowded House have returned to Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, in their first national tour in 12 years with their ‘Dreamers Are Waiting Australian Tour’, and I was lucky to attend.
When Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Mitchell Froom, and touring members (also sons of Neil Finn) Liam and Elroy Finn took to the stage, the crowd were overjoyed. Neil Finn quickly shared that the show felt like a homecoming, as many of the members were either born, have lived, or have studied in Melbourne. And while I was unsure about how ‘homecoming’ the show would be, throughout the night, the narrative proved me otherwise.
Kicking off with the catchy ‘Distant Sun’, followed by the lyrically eloquent ‘World Where You Live’, and sounding better than any recording gives them justice for, it wasn’t until ‘Fall At Your Feet’ did I start to become convinced of how special this show was for not only the band, or for the audience, but for Melbourne.
Sharing of the nostalgia and frustration of the old ‘Melways’, an annual street directory for Melbourne, long before we had any GPSs, and Neil shared amusingly that the show could have a Google map provided for all the songs written in Melbourne. Neil shared suburbs and even house addresses of where he wrote some of Crowded House’s biggest hits including but not limited to ‘Fall At Your Feet’, ‘Pineapple Head’, ‘Four Seasons in One Day’, and ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’.
While I have loved many of these songs all my life, I never realised how close to home they were created, Neil Finn naming suburbs such as South Melbourne, East St Kilda, Caufield, and specific street names such as Osbourne Street and Shirley Grove, even joking that we were more than welcome to go knocking on these doors to share and thank people for Crowded House penning these songs in well, their houses, once upon a time. I shouldn’t have been surprised addresses were even mentioned, considering they mention a house address in their lyrics to ‘Weather With You’! The band even joked about going to High Street in Prahran to celebrate after the show.
Throughout the night, the wicked and affectionate banter between Neil Finn and Nick Seymour was cheekily endearing to witness. The two remaining founding members of Crowded House, still loving every moment of being up on that stage. The arena was filled with attentive and respectful fans who were keen to listen to Crowded House word for word, dishing out one excellent song after the other. Neil even commented and complimented the audience on how great we all were, and why wouldn’t we be? We were in the presence of arguably one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Despite Rod Laver Arena being such a huge venue, the show felt very intimate and personal which I loved.
Not limited to ballads, Crowded House provided more uplifting and rocky numbers with a phenomenal rock style version of ‘Private Universe’, ‘When You Come’, the funky ‘Whatever You Want’, and hits ‘It’s Only Natural’ and ‘Something So Strong’.
When we weren’t captivated listening to Crowded House serenade us, we were serenading them. The audience became part of the band with Crowded House turning the venue into an angelic choir to sing along to their iconic tunes including, ‘Fall At Your Feet’, my personal favourite ‘Weather With You’, ‘Better Be Home Soon’, and ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’.
Not limited to just Crowded House tunes, Neil Finn also pulled out beloved songs from his Split Enz repertoire including ‘Message to My Girl’ which he performed acoustically with just himself on the piano, and ‘I Got You’, performed with the band as part of the encore.
Full of surprises, Crowded House conjured the gorgeously talented 4-piece traditional band Maistrato hailing from Northern Greece to accompany them during some songs, injecting a little bit of Greek flavour which was a blessing for the ears, Noel Crombie appeared showed off his skills during ‘Sister Madly’ playing on the spoons which had the audience excited and clapping along (Neil even joked that “they don’t make silverware like they used to anymore” after this performance), and even Nick Seymour’s talented younger brother came for Crowded House to perform a cover with him of the Hunters & Collectors classic ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’, Mark adding to the ‘map’ that he penned this song all those years ago in Melbourne suburb, Lower Templestowe.
By the encore, Crowded House, equipped with their excellent songs and impressive harmonisation, had the entire venue floor, some even little kids witnessing Crowded House for the first time, were on their feet, dancing, swaying, and shamelessly singing along to their favourite Crowded House songs at the top of their lungs.
This show also felt like a raw and passionate love letter to Melbourne, with so many iconic songs penned in my city, and the knowledge of that fact, filling my heart with happiness and pride. We already know that Melbourne has one live music venue for every 9503 residents on a per-capita basis. But now there’s no denying that Melbourne is the live music capital of the world and a special place for music when even Crowded House is singing its praise.
Spending the night with Crowded House was a gift, especially after all these years. There’s something just so special about singing in unison to your favourite songs in an arena, to music that has touched many lives and have inspired generations, including your own life. Also, learning something new about the songs you’ve loved for years is wonderful. Going to a concert provides a certain kind of joy that is unmatched by any other happiness, and honestly, Crowded House really did put on an incredible one! Hopefully it won’t take nearly as long for the band to return to Melbourne again. Tonight was magical.
Crowded House performed at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday the 22nd of November 2022. They will perform their final Australian shows in Perth on November 25, 26, and 27 to close out the year, before heading on their North American tour in May next year.
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Photography by Grant Alexander.