The only thing we know for sure is that Neil, Nick and Mitchell Froom are getting together and playing a gig at the Byron Bay Blues Festival under the Crowded House name and that Mark has been advised by Neil that he is not required.
While I feel really bad for Mark, I’m still excited by this prospect. Mitchell Froom played a major part in the first 3 albums and in creating the early sound of Crowded House. I’ve really been enjoying re-listening to the deluxe versions of those albums in the last week.
Crowded House was a different beast when it came to Together Alone and Mark’s contribution was huge there. Mark is an incredible multi instrumentalist, vocalist and a producer in his own right (he produced a couple of tracks on Tim Finn’s Before and After). In some ways it feels like after Woodface both Neil and Finn dropped Mitchell Froom for their next albums (Froom also produced Tim Finn) in search of a new direction and Mark seems to be in many ways the Froom replacement at that time.
I do find it a bit weird that Froom is playing live as part of CH, as I can’t recall him ever touring with them (but he was on keyboards for the 1990 MTV show and no doubt played some other one off shows).
I don’t know we can say Mark has been ‘fired’ - he just isn’t included for this particular reunion. The saddest part is that Paul is no longer with us, so we will never hear the original CH play again.
If Neil is going for a reunion of an older version of CH for a gig because Nick and Mitchell both happen to be around, it is pretty harsh on Matt and Mark but Neil has never said he is starting up CH as an active ongoing band again. He has said that he and Nick and Mitchell are performing as CH at the Blues Fest and Mark won’t be. For me, that is still a valid version of Crowded House. I don’t begrudge them performing under the name. If they need somebody on Drums and guitars, I don’t have a problem if it’s Liam and Elroy. They grew up on the road with CH. I would rather them than some random brought in for a one off show to fill a gap. I would also rather them than Matt in this instance. Matt is really special too, but he is part of the fabric and identity of the post 2007 Crowded House.
The gig could be really special if they did something like play TOLM in its entirety as part of it (I doubt it would happen, but that would be special). I would prefer that they didn’t play anything post 91 or at least kept it at a minimum out of respect for Mark and in recognition that it is an early Crowded House reunion gig.
I am just trying to keep as an open mind as possible until we have more information.
I completely agree with others that a new CH album that included Liam and Elroy as a key part of the band would be disappointing. But I see Neil, Nick and Mitchell getting together to perform (with some additional help to cover for Paul’s absence) as a celebration of the early years of CH.
Similarly I would have no problem (not that it would ever happen!) if Phil Judd, Tim Finn, Mike Chunn, Emlyn Crowther, Eddie Rayner and Noel Crombie got together and performed as Split Enz and told Neil and Nigel that they weren’t going to be required.