There's something so strong about a Crowded House show
1. People running the venue will need overtime: The Crowdies played 2-plus hours, packing in more tunes than beers in case of Foster's. The boys from down under might still be making curtain calls as I write.
2. The coffee houses and other elitist joints in town will be dead: Every hipster in Tampa Bay was probably there among the boisterous 1,013 in attendance. It seemed like a high school reunion ... of music critics. The only things missing were name tags and ashtrays.
3. The women will all fall for a Crowdie: Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod probably could have doubled their friend count on Facebook tonight ... all with adoring women (some of whom insisted on standing and trying to dance all night). I'd bet, however, these guys would never stoop to social networking. Why bother when they can put on ties, plug in their guitars (old school style, wires and all) and just be themselves. And Finn can even grow a 'stache and the ladies go nuts! That's the power of great pop.
Here are some other impressions from Wednesday's show:
SIMPLE AND SUBLIME: Only a supremely confident act can open with a song like World Where You Live, which is truly a classic, even though it lacks the bombastic start usually denoting the start of a concert. Finn and company took the stage quietly and confidently in front of a huge backdrop and illuminated plastic ducks and toadstools.
GREAT BANTER: Few bands bother with unscripted bantering with the fans, but Crowded House is an exception. At least this night with this intimate audience. Finn took a couple requests (much to the confusion of drummer Sherrod, who was nonetheless a good sport about it.) A woman from Manchester, England, threw a toy bear on Finn's keyboard, launching the longest sidetrack of the night as keyboardist/guitarist Hart tried to get the story from the obviously over-giddy fan. There's a garage band sensibility still at work with Neil and the boys. They need to have fun first -- and that's a quality sadly missing with so many other bands these days.
BEST GROOVES: Casual fans to the band had to wait an hour for their first top 10 hit, Don't Dream It's Over. The other biggie, Something So Strong, arrived as the main set's finale. But in between were gems like Fall At Your Feet and Distant Sun, a pair of tunes that sadly never got the traction here in the U.S. that they did overseas.
FINALES: Weather With You became the sing-along encore to take away from the show. Finn then improvised a short song about his visit to Clearwater Beach this week. Who saw that coming? Still, it's hard to argue that there's a better closer out there than Better Be Home Soon, a bittersweet reminder Neil and the Crowdies better be back soon.
CROWDED HOUSE SET LIST (according to setlist.fm)
- World Where You Live
- Saturday Sun
- Either Side of the World
- Don't Stop Now
- Fall At Your Feet
- Distant Sun
- Mechanic From Manchester (improvised jam)
- Twice if You're Lucky
- Message To My Girl (Split Enz cover)
- Isolation (with Sharon Finn)
- In My Command
- Hole In The River
- Don't Dream It's Over
- Say That Again (with Liam Finn)
- Skin Feeling
- Silent House (with Liam Finn)
- Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles cover)
- Four Seasons in One Day
- When You Come
- Weather With You
- Old Man (Neil Young cover)
- Locked Out
- Not the Girl You Think You Are
- Two Hours Ago/Clearwater Beach (improvised jam)
- Better Be Home Soon
[Photos by Scott Keeler of the St. Petersburg Times]