Tim Finn is by far one of the best singer-songwriters in the world.
With his music career spanning decades, it already feels like Tim Finn has lived many lives. Whether it be from his time in Split Enz, as a soloist, in music duo the Finn Brothers, or his stint in Crowded House, it really does feel like this incredible musician has done and achieved pretty much everything.
Over the past decade, Tim Finn has taken on more of a background approach with his work, writing music for stage musicals such as Ladies in Black and Melbourne Theatre Company’s Come Rain or Come Shine. You’d be forgiven if you only knew him for his musical theatre work. However, this year marks Tim Finn’s return to the stage with his solo tour fittingly titled, ‘The Lives and Times of Tim Finn’ which began right here in Melbourne on Wednesday September 13th, 2023, at the Palais Theatre.
Accompanied by a 6-piece band which included Tim’s daughter Elliot Finn on backing vocals and percussion, Brett Adams on lead guitar, Tony Buchen on bass guitar, Carlos Adura on the drums, Niall Anderson on the keys, as well as Carlo Babaro who was a very impressive one-man horn section, Tim Finn cheekily took to the stage with the lights temporarily and intentionally going out during the song ‘My Mistake’ (an absolute pun intended on his part). From that moment, I knew that we’d be in for a real treat.
Consistently providing the Melbourne audience with one catchy song after the other, Tim Finn radiated with a genuine joy and confidence, proudly performing each number as if he had penned them all only yesterday. Despite having not been on stage in a while, he looked right at home when performing, elated and in his element. With sincerity, Tim shared that it was both “terrifying and gratifying” to be starting his tour in Melbourne, a city he acknowledged that thoroughly understood and appreciated live music.
With such a big career and a vast discography, it wasn’t humanly possible for every Tim Finn penned song to be on the setlist. But for over 2 hours, old and young fans alike were thoroughly satisfied by both Finn’s stage presence and craft. The setlist that unfolded before the attentive audience was purposefully in chronological order, with Finn acknowledging his musical journey.
From Tim Finn song ‘Fraction Too Much Friction’, Split Enz’s ‘I See Red’, to Crowded House’s ‘Weather With You’, it was evident that these many ‘lives’ of Tim Finn’s career have meant a great deal to him, having shaped him into the prominent artist he is today, equipped with a love and passion for his art that’s, I dare say, stronger than ever.
What I loved about Tim Finn’s performance was that there was no fluff. Everyone knew who he was, he knew what the fans wanted, and what was collectively conjured was a lovely night full of nostalgia, excellent tunes, fun stories, and lots of laughs. You would be hard pressed to have found anyone sitting still in their seats, everyone tapping their feet and bouncing their heads up and down to the beat. In acknowledgement to the energy in the room, Tim even stated, “I can feel you and we’re doing this together.”
Tim Finn hasn’t lost his humour and quirky charm either. He made full use of the stage space to jump and dance around. Crowd pleaser ‘Nobody Takes Me Seriously’ was loud, energetic, and honest, while ‘Chocolate Cake’ was smooth, cool and suave. During this number, Tim even got his whole band to move, sway and dance with him in unison.
A highlight of the night, however, was when a fan shouted for Finn to sign ‘their leg’. A surprised Tim Finn replied to the fan, “Sign your leg? Oh, alright. I’ve never signed a leg, actually! Bring it up here.” Many, including myself, wondered how this would be done until we all saw a prosthetic leg appear on the stage. The leg belonged to a dedicated fan named Jackie and not only did Tim sign it, but he thanked the fan and kindly shared that it was an honour, and then dedicated his next song to her.
Fan interaction wise, Tim Finn also happily chuckled and acknowledged two fans who sat in front row that were cosplaying the suits from Split Enz’s ‘I See Red’ era. It was also great to see the audience get into each track, especially with, ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ where everyone was clapping in time to the opportune moments in the song. We became a chorus when Tim performed ‘Weather With You’ and there was so much joy that filled the room when he had the entire venue singalong with him.
When not animated or standing centre stage, Tim would make his way over to the piano with some tea and would provide us with calm and intimate moments through ballads such as ‘Stuff and Nonsense’ and ‘It’s Only Natural’. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what my favourite moment of the night was because all of it was perfect.
Throughout the night, I loved the way Tim used his hands to tell a story alongside the lyrics that he was singing. It was like music was flowing through every inch of his body and every move only assisted with his self-expression. I’ve admired this decorated musician for the longest time, having grown up listening to Split Enz and Crowded House, to witnessing him take on musical theatre. At this point, I am convinced that Tim Finn can do anything.
Ending the show with Split Enz songs ‘Charlie’, ‘Hard Act To Follow’ and solo song ‘Staring at the Embers’, I found myself satisfied but also wondering what Tim Finn would do next when this tour was over. Whatever it is that he has up his sleeve, I am both keen and curious to find out.
It was truly an honour to see Tim Finn in his element, up on that famed Melbourne Palais Theatre stage. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to see Split Enz perform live, I am genuinely grateful I got to hear and see Tim Finn do what he does best; passionately and effortlessly share his music with the world.
Tim Finn’s ‘The Lives and Times of Tim Finn’ tour will play in Brisbane on September 14 and in Sydney on Sunday the 17th of September before heading to New Zealand to perform in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.
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Photography by Monique Pizzica.