live review

Liam Finn

Liam Finn

Liam Finn at Galatos, Auckland
January 31 2014

Reviewed by: Paul Larsen

It must have been a much more confident Liam Finn that leaped up on the compact Galatos stage compared to the younger version of himself who’d led his band, Betchadupa onto the same stage for their first gig all those years ago. Before the moment could be recreated however, Doprah were first to the stage on the night and quick to draw in a disparate crowd with a captivating set of their uniquely dynamic trip-hop. Fresh from Laneway and an opening spot for Lorde during the week, the Christchurch group put together a slick and inviting performance.

In his thirtieth year, Finn is now somewhat remarkably beginning to resemble a mid-career version of his mentor and friend, Eddie Vedder, complete with red checkered shirt, full beard and sweat licked locks. Debuting songs from his upcoming third solo release The Nihilist, Finn was joined by 'new' band The Salty Women despite being comprised mostly of past collaborators including Eliza-Jane Barnes and James Milne (Lawrence Arabia).

After singing along with the closing bars of intro song 'I'm too sexy', Finn and co launched into a lively set of the new and old. A full-voiced version of 'Better to Be' from 2007's debut I'll be Lightning was popular early as was new single, 'Snug as Fuck". Labelling it, his 'latest creation', the rampantly joyful track is enthusiastically received. Of the new material, '4 Track Stomper' stands out as another highlight. Wild eyed and frantic, Finn crashes through the adventurous track, limbs twitching and flailing in time with the rollicking half-beats and swift pace. For the first time in the night, Finn's own brand of abandon is on show and Betchadupa’s early shows on that very stage come to mind.

"You guys are good whoopers and hollerers!" Finn exclaims between songs. The temperature and the crowd are both heating up towards the end of the show and after enthusiastic renditions of 'I'll Be Lightning' and 'Second Chance' close out the first set, it's a boisterous crowd that invites him back upon the stage. "It feels special and it's nice to be home" By now, Finn has gone full Vedder and the thumping noise-beat of new track, 'Wrestle with Dad" is passionately delivered before the night is put to bed with the shouted and chaotic I'll Be Lightning favourite, ‘Lead Balloon’.

As a showcase for his new work, the night is an exciting success. The new songs are clearly built upon the foundations of his early records but the delivery, execution and direction all feels fresh and more developed. Provided it can replicate a fraction of the energy that went into these performances tonight, The Nihilist could be on track to be something a bit special.

Liam Finn
Liam Finn
Liam Finn
Liam Finn
Liam Finn
Liam Finn
Liam Finn
Liam Finn
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