AEG Live Rocky Mountains presents...
Neil Finn with Liam Finn
Doors: 6:30 PM
Show: 7:30 PM
Age Policy: All Ages
Status: On Sale
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Neil Finn was 18 when he was invited by his older brother Tim to join the trailblazing art rock band Split Enz. His career since might be measured as a series of bounds, the best-known being Crowded House, which he founded with Paul Hester and Nick Seymour after the breakup of Split Enz in 1984. Four albums, among them Crowded House and Together Alone, brought the group popular and critical acclaim around the world.
Along the way, there have been a host of collaborations, including with brother Tim and wife Sharon, and an array of names from Johnny Marr, Ed O’Brien, Eddie Vedder and most of Wilco. There have been two solo records, Try Whistling This and One Nil (or One All). And yet Dizzy Heights unmistakably marks a fresh leap.
With wife Sharon (bass) and sons Liam (guitar) and Elroy (drums), Finn travelled in two bursts to producer Dave Fridmann’s Tarbox Road studio in upstate New York, to record songs composed at his Auckland studio, Roundhead. With Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips), and in collaborations with young New Zealand musicians Connan Mockasin and SJD, Finn has assembled a textured, heady sound, furnished and elevated by woozy strings and soaring vocals.
“I didn’t want to make it a solo record in a stripped back singer-songwriter sort of way,” says Finn. “I had a feeling Dave would be good at adding some odd shapes to the music. Which I always welcome – making things a little more expansive … He is good at subverting things, and making things sound a bit messed up and not as obvious, rather than being too tasteful, which is always a temptation.”
Finn remembers an important English teacher, from four decades ago at his high school in Te Awamutu, a small rural town in New Zealand’s north island. His name was Ron Martin, and he raced them through the School Certificate syllabus in a matter of weeks, to clear space for reading, writing, arguing, making films (“He [later] gave me a Super-8 movie I’d made in his class, and I’d done a kind of dramatised version of the song ‘Aqualung’ by Jethro Tull … I was dressed as a tramp with an old coat”).
Says Finn: “We had a very spirited debate one day in class about whether having big aspirations, big dreams, was a good idea given it can ultimately lead to disillusionment and isolation and at worst bitterness. There was quite a lot of variance of opinion, and I definitely came out for the, yeah, you’ve got to have the big dreams and big aspirations and it doesn’t matter, what the hell.
“I think of that sometimes when ambition, or having big dreams, seems slightly shallow and vain. Because the motivations they shift – imperceptibly sometimes …
“It’s a bit like those boys, jumping off that cliff. I keep thinking back to the one who runs to the edge and stops twice, before leaping off. Life carries on being like that.”