Review of Split Enz at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, 5 June 2006 (by DC Cardwell)

We went to see Split Enz in Melbourne last night at the Rod Laver Arena (home of the Australian Tennis Open), and we were lucky to be in the 6th row on the ground. The sound was perfect. The band came on in a big bag (looked like The Blob) and when they popped out they were wearing something Noel had made out of old curtains (so nothing new there), each member a different flavour of Olde English Spangle.

A long set with two sets of encores, and beautifully paced. Tim Finn was in magnificent voice. Sometimes he’s a bit shaky and you think, “why did he write the songs in those high keys?” but last night he hit every note and his voice was strong and true. He was the most active and energetic member and did a lot of running around. Neil Finn seemed slightly in his shadow, but I’ve often noticed that Neil takes a bit of a back seat when Tim’s on stage – he also smiles more when Tim’s there and seems to always just be admiring him.

I Hope I Never was particularly sublime, and Six Months In A Leaky Boat was probably my highlight of a night in which you realised what an incredible catalogue of memorable tunes they have to choose from.

I See Red was tremendously exciting as usual. One Step Ahead, I Got you, History Never Repeats, Matinee Idyll… I’m afraid I’m not the kind to make careful note of the entire set.

Eddie Rayner was in good form – I often found him a bit over-baroque whan he played with Crowded House (Mark Hart was more appropriate for them) but he was an absolute rock last night and played with style and swing on the electronic keyboard and occasionally on the acoustic piano, which was attacked at various times by him, Tim and Neil.

Noel Crombie and Malcolm Green shared drum duties, playing together in a few songs, and each playing percussion when the other was at the kit. Noel took his traditional spoon solo to great applause, and some of the audience played along on spoons which were handed out by the faithful Frenz Of The Enz leader, Peter Green.

Noel also did the whole Hendrix thing with an electric guitar at one point, banging it off the floor a bit but sadly stopping short of smashing it or setting it on fire. I expect he’ll destroy it on the last night.

A few people dressed up for the occasion, and there was one interesting woman who looked like a particularly colourful bag lady with a red fisherman’s hat. She was in about row 3 in front of us and when a towel appeared on stage and the banter turned to the famous Enz towel-flicking days, they asked for a volunteer to “proffer” their rear-end. The psychedelic tramp made herself obvious and was duly invited onstage, and graciously adopted the appropriate position for Eddie to flick skillfully in her direction. Tim then asked us all to forget this moment had ever happened.

Nigel Griggs seemed to be enjoying himself immensely on bass, too and I don’t think he realised Tim was hiding behind him at one point – every way he turned as he danced, Tim kept right behind him.

So it was a classic warm night of Finn-related music. Tim name-checked Phil Judd, and I hope he was in the audience. Without him the Enz would never have been what they are. Mike Chunn was there – Tim asked him a question at one point and he piped up loudly. There was enough banter and joking around to keep us happy and good nature was very much in evidence.

The support band, Evermore were charming and sounded great although the songs started to seem pretty lightweight after a while – simple chords with predictable anthemic melodies like so many other bands nowadays. This feeling was only enhanced when the Enz played song after song without an uninteresting moment from beginning to end.

So – a great night. I never saw the Enz when they existed, so it was quite an event for me, and if all was right in the world they would be touring the globe and the whole world would be having good nights out and singing along with their unhinged masterpieces.

Review by DC Cardwell