It’s a bittersweet episode today as we join just Neil Finn on his own to close off his Fangradio series. In a full circle moment, Finn is again sat by his piano as he revisits the 1986 self-titled debut album that started it all. “What I’m gonna do is just play the piano and sing my way through the first Crowded House album. Today it’s just me and the piano, and a bit of improvisation.”
We start off with opener ‘Mean to Me,’ and Finn is all in. ‘World Where You Live’ and ‘Now We’re Getting Somewhere’ are close behind. Despite the songs being over 30 years old, it feels as though Finn has just written them and we’re listening to the workings and inner musings of a brand-new musician. Each track sees its own beautiful piano harmony, with ‘NWGS’ getting an incredible piano solo at the beginning, that is a stark contrast to their usual alt-rock and new wave themes.
Then we’re into the classic and universally loved ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, although this version is one we’ve never heard before. Stripping the song right back to just Finn, his passion and his piano, the hit gains whole new life as a moodier and more intimate piece of work. “That was ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ in a previously unperformed form,” Finn explains. “When I’m writing a song, I like to switch from the guitar to the piano then back to the guitar again. Just to consider the different angles and approaches.” The last few remnants of the track trickle out as he speaks. “It’s good to see the lightness and darkness a song can contain.”
As Finn makes his way through the track list – “have I missed a song? Can someone send me a quick message to tell me if I’ve missed out a song?” – the star tunes in for brief moments at a time to reveal the tricks Crowded House have hidden up their sleeve. “There’s a lot of stuff coming at you from Crowded House,” he begins. “We’ve got remixes, photos, a possible live concert. And we’re quite hopeful for getting some overseas shows in soon. Keep your ears peeled, good folk!” Finn also reveals that a couple of Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra remixes of the band’s latest single ‘To The Island’ are coming “very soon.”
“I’m going to finish up with a demo that Paul [Hester] and I both wrote. Nick [Seymour] actually got into Crowded House because he gave this bassline that I had never heard before. He just strutted around in the studio and delivered this funk. He still does.” The demo in mention is ‘That’s What I Call Love’, and within seconds the raw 80s pop-rock track is being played digitally.
And with that, we’ve reached the end of not only the album but the show. “Big love to everyone. This is the last of my album-to-album series, but there’ll be something else coming I’m sure of it.” And if you couldn’t already physically hear his passion for music, Finn takes a second to reflect on how lucky his musical career has been and the opportunities he’s had to contribute to multiple different bands over the years. “I feel really blessed. It’s a success to be able to keep playing, no one can stop you.”
The last notes fade away, the instruments dull their hum, and Finn logs off. But not for long. “Go well,” he wishes. “I’ll see you soon.”