Crowded House: April 27, 2007
Pomona, CA - The Glass House
support: Liam Finn
Notes: I left Fresno just after noon and drove straight down to Culver City to meet my sister at work, arriving just after 4pm. Traffic was a mess of course, but it stayed moving most of the time. I've been stuck when it's been stop and go or stop and stop and stop and very little go. As long as my wheels are moving, (and I don't have some great urge to PEE) then I can handle it.
We left Julia's car at her workplace and took mine out to Pomona, listening to nothing but Crowded House the entire way (as I had on the drive down and have been for the last couple of months, really.). Traffic was still a bitch and it took us two hours to travel 50 miles. I know that's normal for LA, but I don't live in LA and the traffic is a HUGE reason why.
I was getting excited and anxious to get to the venue. In an ideal world I would've gotten there a bit earlier and tried to meet some 'net friends in the line, but it was important to me that Julia be able to come to the show with me, and her grueling workload dictated a later departure. The most important thing was getting there before Crowded House hit the stage, which we did, so it was all good.
Pomona is a fairly small city and the venue, the Glass House, was in an artsy district that sort of reminded me of the Tower district here in Fresno. After checking into the hotel down the street, and getting a quick protein fix from Burger King, we got to the venue around 8:30 and parked in a bank parking lot across the street. It was very surreal to me to be in such small, quaint surroundings, with plentiful parking to be found for free across the street....and about to see a band who have taken up such a HUGE place in my life recently. We went down there again the next morning to attempt to have a meal and the street was like a ghost town. There were a couple of clothing shops open, but the restaurants did business only for lunch and dinner. The Glass House looked almost abandoned, or like some shitty hole that only no-name punk bands might play. It was hard to fathom that Neil freakin' Finn was there just the night before.
Anyway, let's go back to the night before. As we walked to the venue, the new drummer, Matt Sherrod, was standing outside talking to a group of people. I did a double-take and I think I caught his eye and just smiled. As we walked past I told Julia, "That guy in the striped shirt is the drummer!" We got wristbands for in-and-out privileges and they didn't want to look in my bag even after I offered. Very unlike most shows I go to!
Once through the doors, you're basically in a big square room and the stage is in a corner to your right. Liam Finn, Neil's son, was the opening act and he was like a one-man band, using machines to record and loop what he played, working up the guitar and bass sounds and then going over to a little drum set and going crazy on it. I've seen this kind of thing before in a headliner and it was cool for a song or two, but I grew bored hearing an entire set like that. Liam's stuff was a bit different with the addition of the real drum set, and even a theremin in the last song. He'd already played five or six songs by the time we got in, so we only saw his last two, and they were entertaining. I don't know what my patience would've been like if I'd heard everything, but I still bought his CD at the merch booth afterwards. (There was the cutest handwritten note taped to the table saying, "Liam Finn CD $10, fuck yeah!" Oh, and for you nearLY-ites, his CD was put out by Kufala!)
He finished up, and Julia and I staked out places where we could see between the tall people. We were towards the back, in line with Neil and Matt behind him. I had a pretty good, unobstructed view of them and Nick, but I had to strain a bit more to see Mark on the keyboards and Liam behind him. Julia was a few people away from me, and it would've been nice if we could've stood together, but I wanted both of us to be able to see, and that's what we accomplished. There were looks exchanged between us every now and again, too.
So...at 9:03 the lights went down, the cheers went up, and the band took the stage. It was a wonderful moment that I'd been looking forward to for a very long time. I think it's been about a year since I've been THAT excited for a show, too. I was acting like a total freak in the hours beforehand, just stopping every now and then and saying to Julia, "Oh my god, I can't believe I'm going to see Crowded House!" It was obnoxious, I'm sure. I was acting like someone half my age and it was a bit embarrassing, but I was so damn happy that it was hard to curb my behavior.
I had really hoped that the first song I would see them play was "Mean To Me," but I knew that they'd opened with that the night before, in Tempe, and I doubted they'd do it again. I was right. They didn't play it at all, and that was a minor disappointment for me, but so small compared to everything else. Since I watched the St. Paddy's Day webcast live, and that was their first performance in front of an audience in yeeeears, and they opened that with Mean To Me, I'm able to live with it.
Here's the set list:
1. Locked Out
--ROCKIN! Great high-energy opener, but I swear I thought Neil had sucked a helium balloon or was singing in some joke voice, because his vocals sounded so high and nasal. There was like, no bass in the mix. It got better as the song went on but it really threw me for a minute. (7-17-07 note: I've since listened to other versions of this song performed this year, and he just seems to sing a lot higher on that song for some reason. I'd never noticed it before on older recordings.)
2. Don't Stop Now
--new song, it's okay
3. Walked Her Way Down
--new song I hadn't heard before
4. Fingers of Love
--dreamy, moody, atmospheric one I love
5. Black and White Boy
--eh, this just sounded off-sync, and I'm not a big fan of it to begin with
6. Nobody Wants To
7. People Are Like Suns
--new song I hadn't heard before
8. Recurring Dream
--This was such a treat! I think someone sent up a paper plane with this requested on it. (A Crowded House tradition.) It's one of their oldest songs but never made an album (until their post-breakup rarities collection) and they never played it that often. Neil started playing it and said "You know this is just going to be a tease, don't you." I figured as much. But then he started to sing it, and Nick came in, and Matt started playing, with Neil directing him, and they basically did the entire song! This more than made up for the lack of "Mean To Me." I know I'll get MTM at a future show, but "Recurring Dream" just felt like this totally unexpected, sweet little gem. I was VERY happy about that.
9. Private Universe
--live versions of this just blow the album version out of the water. Well, it's almost like a very different song because live, it's a lot more rockin' and jammy and dark and I love, love, love it. There were times when everyone on stage was singing that I just got chills. "It's a tight squeeze but I won't let go..."
10. World Where You Live
--always a fun one, and definitely one that the more casual fans in the audience knew
11. Don't Dream It's Over
--This, of course, got the loudest cheers. Neil had an issue with the volume, though, and got the band to play quieter. It was a bit of an awkward break in the mood of the song
12. Silent House
--This is the one new song that I have loved, instantly, from the first time I heard it.
13. English Trees
--another new one, but I'm really not thrilled with it
14. Four Seasons in One Day
--Neil got us singing in different notes along with this song, and it was very cool
15. She Called Up
--another new one, this one is a bit catchier and upbeat than some of the other newuns, and I like it alright.
16. Distant Sun
--one of my favorites, not a big surprise to hear it, but definitely welcomed
17. When You Come
--my ABSOLUTE favorite, and exactly where I wanted it in the show: to close the main set. It sounded fantastic, I didn't catch any lyrical flubs, and it got me jumping around more than any other song. If they hadn't played this, it would've broken my heart a bit. Julia told me later that she would've started shouting out for it in the encores if they hadn't played it, because she knows how much I love the song.
18. Transit Lounge
--another new one. I'm not nuts about it, but it's better than some. Liam had fun playing with samples of the sound of a train and people speaking in foreign languages on the keyboards, looking over at his dad and smiling. He sang harmonies, played a lot of acoustic guitar, and sometimes the keys when Mark was on guitar or lap steel. I thought it was very neat to see him onstage with his dad and clearly enjoying himself.
19. Fall at Your Feet
--another classic oldie I'm fond of
20. Heaven That I'm Making
--new one that I like well enough
21. Something So Strong
--their second-biggest hit in the US, this got a strong crowd reaction. It's a very sweet pop song that can get a bit too bubblegum for me at times, but I still find it
22. Better Be Home Soon
--when they started this, I was pretty sure it was the end, and it made me so sad. But the crowd singalong was nice and they gave us more than two hours and seemed in great spirits.
There was a lot of joking and banter going on between Neil and Nick in particular. It's what makes their show so different from most shows I've seen. There's a lot of laughter and it feels very laidback and joyful. I don't think you can help but leave feeling like you had a really great, fun time, unless there was something crappy going on in the audience around you.
I can't say it was an outstanding, life-changing experience and they played the perfect setlist. I am having a hard time really getting into the new stuff, with the exception of "Silent House," and they are playing a fair number of new songs. But I can't complain about that because I think that's how it should be: they have an album coming out in July and I think it's good that they're focusing on the present and the future, and not just doing some revival of old hits to rejuvenate their bank accounts and then move on again.
They're also going to have some setbacks with a new drummer and aging memories. ;-) But Matt is wonderful. I think he is kicking ass and there hasn't been anything I've heard him do, or not do, that makes me cringe. I hope they hold on to him for as long as they stay together this time.
The crowd was pretty mellow and showed the band a lot of love. The venue doesn't serve alcohol, and while I'm sure that's unpopular for a lot of people, I LOVED it, because it cut back on drunken idiots. The sound was decent, other than that nasally sound to Neil's voice on his mic at times. He played keys on a few songs and it seemed like his voice sounded better on the mic by the keyboard. Overall, I was more than happy with it and fell in love with them even harder than I'd been before.
Sometimes I leave a concert and I feel that I had a good time, the performance was good, I'm glad I went, but I don't necessarily need to make a great effort to see them again. Other times, I leave a show and my hunger to see the band again is even deeper than it was before. Crowded House is definitely in the latter category.
I'm very anxious for them to announce more dates in California because I want to know when I can write it on my calendar that I will see them again. I'm pretty sure it will be mid/late August, and a really difficult time for me to use my vacation days, but I will find a way to see them at least once again before the end of the year. I've missed out on so much, their first 10 years as a band, all of Neil's solo shows, and I feel like the world's biggest idiot for that, but I'm definitely on board now and won't be making ignorant mistakes in the future.
I had hopes of meeting some of the other people from the message board I've been reading and posting on. I'd sold my last extra ticket to a woman from Australia, and had shipped it to her friend who was coming down from Chicago, and I really wanted to meet them. But it was not to be. I had no idea what they looked like, didn't have their phone number, and even though it was a club show, not an arena or stadium, it would've been hard to identify a stranger. After surviving the long line at the merch booth, we called it a night and headed back to the motel. I was a bit sad that it was all over, but I know I'll see them again at the end of the summer, I just don't know when.
(another 7-17-07 note: The new songs are growing on me, and I have managed to get enough time off from work to allow me to see four shows at the end of the summer, so I'm very happy about that!)
(review originally written in May 2007)