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Home is where the Finn Brothers are
POP MUSIC CRITIC
Neil and Tim Finn, the on-again, off-again and now on-again sibling collaborators behind Split Enz, Crowded House and various tandem and solo projects, each has his own way of cutting loose.
Reunited as the Finn Brothers for a forthcoming album, Everyone Is Here, the New Zealanders delivered some great music during their set Monday night at Massey Hall, while also providing a study in contrasting emotional dispositions.
Neil, 46, the younger and (let's be honest) considerably more talented of the two, is also the most controlled. This isn't to say his stage work is as neatly shaped as his songwriting. You have to see him live to entirely appreciate how deftly he plays electric guitar, but even when he stretches out, as he did on a rousing rendition of the Crowded House song "It's Only Natural," the underlying discipline is always evident.
Tim, 52, is ruled by no such restraint. During the tandem's 19-song set, including five encore numbers, he seemed on the verge of becoming completely unhinged several times, which lent an added measure of primitive menace to "Dirty Creature" of Split Enz vintage.
For the most part, the brothers successfully fed off of each other's divergent energies. Demonstrative displays of affection, however, were infrequent. The attempts at banter generally fell flat. For the most part, they maintained a respectful distance. But if you've ever seen the Everly Brothers perform, you'll know there is a vast distinction between respectful and downright chilly.
In any case, there was enough geniality in the material.
The songs from Everyone Is Here, which served as the backbone of the set, were linked by a thematic interest in home, hearth, friendship, family and relationships. "Nothing Wrong With You," a track from the disc, held its own between the more familiar "There Goes God" and "I See Red" during the first encore.
The Finns, joined by their three accompanists, returned for a finale comprising two Crowded House favourites, "Better Be Home Soon" and "Four Seasons In One Day."
By then, the spotlight had settled on the undeniable star of the show, Neil Finn. All eyes, including those of his brother seated nearby on the piano, were upon him.