Dreams of a fa­ther and a son

Neil and Liam Finn Jan­uary 18, Queen’s Hall, Ed­in­burgh

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Culture - By Na­dine McBay

New Zealand pop royal Neil Finn has al­ways en­joyed mak­ing mu­sic with other Finns. As a young­ster grow­ing up in the town of Te Awa­mutu, on New Zealand’s North Is­land in the 1960s and 1970s, he’d per­form at fam­ily gath­er­ings with his brother Tim. Six years Tim’s ju­nior, Neil looked up to the older boy and de­cided at the age of 12 to be a mu­si­cian like his brother.

“We’d sing all night,” Neil re­mem­bers in Jeff Apter’s 2010 bi­og­ra­phy of the Finn broth­ers, To­gether Alone.

“It was very much part of our up­bring­ing ... That was the first inkling of the se­duc­tion of live per­for­mance.”

When Tim left home for board­ing school, Neil prac­tised on a gui­tar his brother had left be­hind, and went on to play gigs in lo­cal hos­pi­tals and prisons.

The broth­ers would be re­united in key new wave band Split Endz, and also oc­ca­sion­ally in Crowded House, the wildly suc­cess­ful band Neil formed with Split Enz drum­mer Paul Hester in 1985.

The band’s big­gest hit, 1992’s thenu­biq­ui­tous Weather With You was writ­ten by both broth­ers, and in 1994 the pair re­leased Finn, an al­bum mainly writ­ten dur­ing a three-week break from Crowded House.

An­other Finn Broth­ers al­bum, the haunt­ing Ev­ery­one Is Here, fol­lowed in 2004. With Tim now mainly fo­cused on writ­ing for the stage – no­tably Star Nav­i­ga­tor for New Zealand Opera and Ladies In Black, a mu­si­cal for Queens­land The­atre Com­pany – Neil

has since looked to the con­sid­er­able tal­ents of his own im­me­di­ate fam­ily.

In 2007, when Crowded House re­formed and re­con­fig­ured them­selves in the wake of Hester’s death, Neil’s son Liam be­came part of the tour­ing band. Since then, both Liam and younger brother El­roy have played reg­u­larly with their fa­ther, who also hap­pens to have an out­fit with his wife Sharon. Find­ing them­selves at a loss when their boys left home to make their own way in mu­sic, the pair called them­selves Pa­jama Club as “we were dressed in our py­ja­mas when we started”.

All of which makes Light­sleeper, Neil’s de­but al­bum col­lab­o­ra­tion with Liam, feel a long time com­ing. Af­ter all, Liam al­ready has a re­spectable body of ac­claimed solo work be­hind him: 2007’s I’ll Be Light­ning, 2011’s FOMO, and The Ni­hilist three years ago, each al­bum be­com­ing more sin­gu­lar, more ec­cen­tric.

“I think it’s prob­a­bly taken this long, be­cause I’ve been do­ing my own thing,” Liam told an in­ter­viewer ahead of the re­lease of Light­sleeper in Au­gust 2018.

The ori­gins of Light­sleeper came three years pre­vi­ously, at Liam’s wed­ding on a Greek is­land. Neil per­formed the loved-up Is­land Of Peace – now Light­sleeper’s ma­jes­tic opener – a song Neil had writ­ten specif­i­cally to cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion.

Re­ports say El­roy was dressed as a Greek god, tri­dent in hand, as Liam was raised aloft by a mem­ber of the wed­ding party. Spir­its ap­par­ently got so high that the groom was left tem­po­rar­ily un­con­scious with a dis­lo­cated thumb. Later, as it healed, fa­ther and son worked on Light­sleeper, a dreamy, sump­tu­ous record in­tended to mark the gen­er­a­tional shift that came with Liam’s mar­riage and the sub­se­quent birth of Neil’s first grand­child.

It’s fit­ting, then, that Liam is given the lead on the record, his more tex­tu­ral com­po­si­tions given form by his fa­ther’s sharp sense for melody. For now, this is the only date on which Neil and Liam bring the lush, ro­man­tic record live to Scot­land: later this month Neil heads out on a US tour with Fleet­wood Mac, the gui­tarist hav­ing been an­nounced last year as re­place­ment for Lind­sey Buck­ing­ham along­side Mike Camp­bell of Tom Petty’s Heart­break­ers.

Neil and Liam Finn be­gan per­form­ing to­gether at Liam’s wed­ding

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.