I’m just as shocked and equally disappointed with the news... Mark Hart is not only an integral part of the music, the history, and the overall brand, he’s genuinely one of the nicest guys ever. His presence added a level of maturity and musical sophistication that will be very-very hard to replicate. As a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist he will leave a gap that is virtually impossible to fill... Here’s hoping Rick Davies’ health is on the mend, and maybe Supertramp decides to do a world tour or Ringo Starr calls up and invites him back to his All-Starr band.
In terms of the future of Crowded House, the silver lining here is that the band will likely go on beyond just the single show in Sydney in April next year. Who will actually be in the band, and what (if any) new material will we get, will likely remain a mystery until after Fleetwood Mac wraps their tour later in the fall. Neil is intentionally and rightfully trying not take any attention away from the Mac; they’ve been really good to him and he owes them that much.
My guess is Matt is also out (I really hope I’m wrong, but how/why could they ditch Mark and keep Matt?).
The idea of Mitchell Froom joining them in Sydney (and maybe beyond) is exciting, and also indicates they’re covered in terms of keyboards (at least for the Bluesfest show). Still I wouldn't be surprised (or upset) if we see Eddy Rayner play some part in the future of the band.
In terms of who’ll be drumming, here are a few guesses (ordered in terms of probability): Elroy / Mick Fleetwood / Joey Waronker / Rob Hirst (Midnight Oil) / Glenn Kotche (Wilco) / Matt Eccles ( Betchadupa drummer who played with Tim once upon a time) / other lesser known session player / Matt Sherrod
Tim will very likely make an appearance at the show, and I think that because Mitchell Froom is in the mix, and Mark being gone, Tim will likely be involved in the future of the band. CH v3.0 is perhaps Woodface 2 or the evolution of a 3rd Finn Brothers project. Also, having Tim in the band would cover the harmonies and rhythm guitars.
If I’m wrong about Tim’s long-term role in the new band, then they’ll definitely need another guitarist, so while I’m on roll, here are my guesses of who that part might go to (again ordered from most probable to least likely): Liam / Mike Campbell / Johnny Marr / Jim Moginie / Don McGlashan / Connan Mockasin-Lawrence Arabia or any other of Liam’s cohorts.
One final conspiracy theory (why not) involves Sheryl Crow, Bic Runga, and/or Lisa Germano or someone accomplished in their own right (Johny Marr and some of the other names above fit into this category). The logic being, with the whole Fleetwood Mac thing Neil has seen firsthand how merging two legacies draws the attention of the media and ultimately sells tickets for shows that would otherwise go mostly unnoticed (except for hardcore fans).
Regardless of what/when we find out, my curiosity is firing on all cylinders and I’m very excited (similar to how I felt in 2006/2007 when we first heard about CH v2.0).
As Neil mentioned during his radio show last night, the key will be to TRUST (as we should) that he AND NICK, know what they’re doing. They know how to protect the CH legacy and wouldn’t (intentionally) do anything to betray their fans.
Exciting times ahead...