They Will Have Their Way: The Songs of Tim & Neil Finn @ The Palais Theatre

The Palais Theatre in St Kilda on a warm Spring night set the mood perfectly to pay tribute to the works of two iconic local artists. Neil and Tim Finn’s discography spans over four decades and 18 albums from Crowded House, Split Enz and The Finn Brothers and has been well celebrated in recent times with the compilation albums from various Australian artists: She Will Have Her Way in 2005 and He Will Have His Way five years later. Continuing in that tradition, They Will Have Their Way saw Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann, Holly Throsby (all three parts of Seeker Lover Keeper), Clare Bowditch, Paul Dempsey, Lior and Alexander Gow (Oh Mercy) bring out their own versions of the New Zealand brothers’ tracks (who are we kidding, they’re Australians and we all know it.)Opening the show with a beautiful rendition of “Four Seasons in One Day” was Sally Seltmann accompanied by a single keyboard. Clare Bowditch, always the life of the party, then joined Lior on stage for the first duet of the night with The Finn Brothers’ “Won’t Give In”. The vocals clashed in the early part of the song, partly due to Bowditch’s in-tune cock-up of the lyrics, but as they worked through that and belted out the chorus they – and the whole show – began to hit its stride. The ladies of Seeker Lover Keeper came on to back Bowditch in the recent favorite “Fall At Your Feet” which was a true highlight of the night. The gorgeous harmonies produced by Blasko, Throsby and Seltmann echoed through the theatre and had plenty of hairs standing on end. With interchanges whipping through faster than on the Collingwood bench, Alexander Gow arrived with Holly Throsby for some loveably awkward flirting followed by the first Split Enz song of the night “Stuff and Nonsense”. Enter Paul Dempsey for his first appearance of the night, the veteran rocker from Something For Kate never fails to produce and smashed out some of the best songs of the set. Act one wrapped up with Clare Bowditch getting the crowd involved in a fun but all too short sing along of “Better Be Home Soon”.Alex Gow opened back up post-intermission. The very dry, sometimes funny, sometimes boring singer from Melbourne group Oh Mercy led the slow start of act two. All shared stories about the Finns and experiences with their music, tales of high school mixtapes and fatherly love were followed by some personal favorites which led onto the classics. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” was brought out early, Sarah Blasko singing a simplistic version of the crowd favorite was joined half way through by the rest of the cast for backing vocals. It was an interesting take on Crowded House’s biggest hit but it lacked something special for what could have been the centerpiece of the show. Dempsey, supported by Lior and Gow rocked out to “I See Red” by Split Enz before all were on stage again to close the show with “It’s Only Natural” and “Weather With You”.There was a very casual feel all night that came across in the set, the covers being very much hit and miss. The haunting performances from the trio Seeker Lover Keeper and distinct vocals of Paul Dempsey brought the best out of the Finn’s catalogue and captivated the older, passionate crowd which despite being a seated affair rose with applause to rival any other show at the final stand. All on stage were obviously humbled by the experience, Dempsey sharing the love of the Finns with the audience saying “these songs belong to everybody here.” Praise has to be given to the backing band who stayed incredibly tight for the whole show dealing with more instruments than you could count. On a beautiful night at one of the most beautiful venues there is, They Will Have Their Way was a pretty special experience. by Arran Bouten

November 8th 2011
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