“Kia ora motherfangers!” Welcome back to another episode of the Crowded House Fangradio sessions, in which Neil Finn takes us through the archives of the band’s discography and plays acoustic renditions of some of their biggest hits. This week, the band are taking a look at 1991’s Woodface, which just so happens to be celebrating its 30th anniversary. The album is one of Crowded House’s best, earning the band their first top 10 album in the UK, ending up at number 3 on the list of Australia’s 100 Best Albums, and scoring a number 1 on the charts here in NZ.
“It’s a mad scramble at the moment because we’re rehearsing for a tour that’s currently postponed,” Neil Finn lets us know at the start. But he admits that while he’s desperate to head out and play for his fans, he’s enjoying just playing music with his bandmates again in the little bubble they’ve created.
We start the show with the hit ‘Chocolate Cake’, a song that’s a humourous attack on American excess and greed. And just as it ends, instantly the band start bickering about a noticeable chord change in the chorus. “This is the kind of stuff that was happening 30 years ago, and it’s happening still.” Finn laughs.
From there it’s discussions over whether Picasso was in fact an a**hole, the blurred line that is ‘cancel culture’ and the downfalls of fame, which Finn definitely believes destroys people. “I just think if a person’s a great artist, that stands separately,” Nick Seymour comments. “Unless you’re a politician, then cancel them right away.”
Next up we have two of the band’s biggest singles; ‘It’s Only Natural’ and ‘Fall at Your Feet’, which the band eagerly tucks into. Finn admits afterwards that the latter almost had a completely different chorus. “I was going to make it, fly away little bird, fly as fast as you can, don’t get in the way of this approaching man because he’s insane.” No one else can really believe that, because frankly how ridiculous, but Finn reminds them he was actually only 17/18 when he wrote it.
Then it’s time for the weekly tree review. This week: Cedar trees. “I love cedar. They’re tall and straight, and they’re very popular amongst home builders.” Finn then proceeds to tell us all a folklore tale including one. It doesn’t really have much relevance to anything, but the whole tree review thing has become such a traditional it’d feel weird to stop now.
The band then play ‘Whispers and Moans’ again, switching up the way they played it last time, and Seymour goes into a funny story of the opening bassline. “When we were in the studio we met Cheap Tricks, and that opening bassline you hear in ‘Whispers and Moans’ was played on their Gecko bass.” Finn then name drops the other stars from the studio, including Bono and Bruce Springsteen, “but Bono kind of snobbed me.”
After a quick shout out to Finn’s two-year-old grandson, whose birthday is today, the crew kickstart ‘Weather With You.’ From there, ‘Four Seasons in One Day’, a quick sandwich order (Finn will take chicken teriyaki, Nick will try the salmon), and then ‘There Goes God’; which Finn admits his mum, a religious Catholic, doesn’t really like. They share their opinions on cheese, admit that former member Paul Hester insisted the band make condoms with their faces on for merch, and jump into their remaining songs ‘Italian Plastic’, ‘She Goes On’ (written for Finn’s friend whose mother passed) and ‘How Will You Go’.
The sandwiches arrive, the guitars come off, and as usual Finn thanks us all for listening. And until next time, Crowded House will be busy jamming in their little bubble just like they always have been.