Happy House: Neil Finn thrills Dubai

Happy House: Neil Finn thrills Dubai

Far from your tortured artist archetype, Neil Finn beamed his way through decades of hits in Dubai

By Adam Zacharias (adam@khaleejtimes.com)

Published: Sun 18 May 2014, 12:07 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 3:41 AM

Neil Finn, much like the songs he writes, brims with genial charm. In fact, the 55-year-old New Zealander might just be one of the happiest veteran rock stars ever to perform on these shores.

The Crowded House and Split Enz frontman performed at The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Thursday night as part of his ‘Dizzy Heights’ tour, named after his third solo album which came out in February.

In front of a moderate yet enthusiastic crowd – which saw plenty of ‘dad dancing’ through the night – Finn bowled onto stage as part of a tight six-person group, including his wife of 32 years Sharon on bass guitar.

Peppering his early set list with Crowded House hits like Weather With You and Distant Sun, the singer-songwriter also included a smattering of ear-teasing new tunes like Flying in the Face of Love. In between tracks, Finn was in a playful mood – introducing his fellow musicians no fewer than three times, teasing most of them too, as well as thanking his tour crew one by one. After sitting at a grand piano midway through the show, he tinkled a few notes from The Godfather theme tune before launching into Four Seasons in One Day. Meanwhile, a man tiptoed his way through the crowd carrying an asleep baby sporting noise-cancelling pink headphones.

Finn moved back to guitar for a stripped-down rendition of It’s Only Natural, accompanied only by backing singer Lisa Tomlins and guitarist Jesse Sheehan, then continued onto his international 1986 smash Don’t Dream It’s Over and the punchy Locked Out from Crowded House’s 1993 album Together Alone.

Given that the star of the show is a living Australasian legend, it was no surprise to hear plenty of Aussie and Kiwi accents among the audience – with Finn joking about both his Kiwi and his Irish heritage during the concert.

He also confided that he was staying in a nearby hotel, and that during the afternoon he had received a text message warning guests about late-night noise from the Neil Finn concert. “Let’s give the sleeping guests a big cheer,” he implored the fans, who roared in approval.

The father-of-two, whose son Liam Finn is himself a noted musician, came back onstage for the encore still grinning and larking around – throwing a Justin Bieber reference into the lyrics of Chocolate Cake and forcing young drummer Alistair Deverick to say an awkward hello to the crowd, before closing the night with 1988’s singalong Better Be Home Soon. A class act, Finn proved the polar opposite to other veteran artists who have visited Dubai only to perform with a scowl and a deliberately hit-light set list (we’re looking at you, Noel Gallagher and Eric Clapton).

More news from In The City